The White House plans to send a report to Congress late next week detailing how automatic across-the-board budget cuts, set to take effect in January, will affect specific programs.
The report is required under the Sequestration Transparency Act, which Congress overwhelmingly passed this summer and which the President signed on Aug. 7. The law directed the President to issue the detailed report within 30 days of signing it — a deadline that came this week and went unmet.
“Given the time needed to address the complex issues involved in preparing the report, the administration will be submitting that report to Congress late next week,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.
After being pressed by reporters about the delay, Carney said: “There are a lot of factors involved in preparing a report like this, and that’s why we’ll be releasing it next week.”
Sponsors of the bill said the President’s report is necessary because the administration hasn’t provided specifics about how $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts over 10 years will be applied or which programs will be exempt.
The cuts — $110 billion next year alone — stem from the failure of a special committee to agree on a deficit-reduction plan.
The Office of Management and Budget has begun meeting with agencies to determine which budget accounts and programs will be exempt from the cuts. However, Acting OMB Director Jeff Zients, told the House Armed Services Committee last month it was virtually impossible to list the programs that would be affected by sequestration because Congress hadn’t yet passed any appropriations bills for fiscal 2013.
Republican lawmakers quickly seized on the missed deadline.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who authored the Senate version of the bill, said the public deserves to know how the cuts will be implemented. By missing the deadline, “the Obama administration seems to think it is above the law,” he said in a statement.
“Every day that the administration delays being transparent with the American people on the sequester moves us one day closer to going over the fiscal cliff,” Thune said.
In a statement, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said the “President’s continued silence on sequestration is disappointing.”
Francis Rose is the host of In Depth, which airs weekdays from 4-7 p.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC metro area and online everywhere. Francis has covered all three branches of the federal government as a broadcast journalist since 1998. He joined Federal News Radio in 2006, and launched In Depth in 2008 as a daily show focused on connecting federal executives to the information they need to do their jobs better.