Congress Should Offset Cost of Any Sequester Agreement

For Immediate Release


Press reports suggest Congress and the administration are nearing a sequester relief agreement to increase defense and non-defense spending by as much as $200 billion over the next two years, while offsetting only some of the costs.


The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

With our national debt at historic highs and growing unsustainably, Congress and the President should be pursuing policies to reduce deficits, not increase them. There is absolutely no reason for Congress to increase federal spending without fully offsetting the cost.


There is certainly a good case for enacting a sequester relief package to replace one-time discretionary spending cuts with permanent mandatory spending reforms. After all, the discretionary sequester limits from the Budget Control Act were intended as enforcement to encourage passage of a comprehensive deficit reduction plan.


It’s not too late for such a plan. Earlier this year, we proposed a mini-bargain that would permanently replace the sequester with a provision to more accurately measure inflation and $400 billion of bipartisan deficit reduction policies. Such a deal could also prevent unpaid-for tax cuts, finance disaster relief, raise the debt limit, improve the budget process, and establish a Social Security commission.


At minimum, lawmakers should follow the model of past sequester-relief agreements and pay for new spending with real cuts, not higher debt. And offsets must be real – no timing shifts, funny money, or other budget gimmicks.


Increasing discretionary spending limits without fully offsetting the costs represents a dangerous abandonment of budget discipline at a time when our nation’s fiscal position gets worse by the day.


For more information contact Matt Bylis at