Fact Check - The sequester

This Republican talking point aims to blame President Obama for more than $1 trillion in automatic, across-the-board cuts in domestic and defense spending that - without action by Congress - are scheduled to take effect on March 1. In the summer of 2011, when Democrats and Republicans couldn't agree on spending cuts in exchange for increasing the federal government's borrowing limit, legislators passed the Budget Control Act. The BCA capped federal discretionary spending to save $1.2 trillion over a 10-year period. The BCA mandated that a bipartisan 12 member committee find $1.5 trillion in additional cuts. If the committee failed to come up with a plan, another $1.2 trillion in cuts would occur automatically - half from defense spending and half from discretionary spending on domestic programs - through sequestration. The committee failed to reach an agreement, and the automatic cuts will begin on March 1. The BCA passed the House with 269 votes in favor - 174 from Republicans and 95 from Democrats, in the Senate with 74 "yea" votes, of which 28 were cast by Republicans. In fact, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said on NBC's Meet thePress on Feb. 17 that "Republicans deserve blame; I'll take some blame for it."

The Budget Control Act of 2011 specified that a different set of caps would take effect for 2013 through 2021 to cover defense and non-defense budget authority if recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction that would reduce deficits by $1.2 trillion over that period were not enacted by Jan. 15, 2012 (extended to March 1, 2013). The automatic enforcement procedures delineated in the Budget Control Act would reduce the caps on discretionary budget authority for 2014 through 2021. For 2013, a sequestration of budgetary resources is scheduled to take effect, but no further reduction in the caps is specified in the law. Discretionary budget authority for 2013, CBO estimates, would be reduced by $97,469 million through that sequestration. In addition, a sequestration of mandatory spending is scheduled each year between 2013 and 2021.

The effects of sequestration on Federal programs for Colorado in 2013 are cuts estimated at $8.4 million for education; $2 million for Protections for the Clean Air & Water Act; $331,000 for Job assistance programs effecting 14,810 workers; $1,992,000 for Public Health; 430 for jobs in Work-study; 12,000 civilian jobs and $123.5 million in military spending; 300 children would lose access to child care; $109,000 for stopping violence against women program; 700 spots in Head Start; $213,000 in law enforcement; 2,240 children lose vaccinations; and $720,000 would be lost nutrition assistance for seniors. Nationally, the 8.2 percent across the board cuts would increase unemployment and reduce GDP an estimated .5 percent.