In 2013, the Bipartisan Budget Act negotiated by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) provided partial, temporary relief from sequestration. With the return of full sequestration in 2016, the American Library Association (ALA) is collaborating with NDD United, an alliance of organizations working together to protect nondefense discretionary funding, to renew efforts to bring an end to sequestration.
Today, ALA joined NDD United and more than 2,100 organizations from across all sectors of the economy and society to urge Congress and President Obama to work together to end sequestration. The letter (pdf) emphasizes (1) the importance of nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs, (2) the harmful effects of budget cuts to date, and (3) the equal importance of both defense and nondefense programs in America’s security at home and abroad, and thus the need for equal sequestration relief.
Sequestration cuts had significant impact on federal library programs. For example, school libraries already suffering from budget cuts, saw a 12.5 percent cut in Innovative Approaches to Literacy making less grant money available for low-income school libraries. LSTA funding was reduced nearly $10 million which reduced libraries abilities to provide services for education, employment and entrepreneurship, community engagement, and individual empowerment.
Cuts to date have had significant impacts on the lives of Americans as demonstrated in NDD United’s 2013 report “Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Make Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Secure (pdf).” Deficit reduction measures enacted since 2010 have come overwhelmingly from spending cuts, with the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases far beyond those recommended by bipartisan groups of experts. And there is bipartisan agreement that sequestration is bad policy and ultimately hurts our nation. However, so far, Congress and the President have not been able to agree on other deficit reduction to replace the damaging cuts. As work begins on the 2016 budget, it is critical that Congress and the President find a replacement to sequestration to allow the government to keep making appropriate investments in Americans.