Sequestration is a fiscal policy term used to describe automatic across-the-board spending cuts. The Budget Control Act, passed by Congress in 2011, contained a provision to trigger a sequestration in January 2013 if deficit reduction goals were not achieved by the end of 2011.  These goals were not met.

January 1, 2013 marked not only the start of the sequestration cuts but also the expiration of many tax provisions. This became known as the so-called fiscal cliff. To avert the fiscal cliff, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) to delay sequestration for two months and to continue several of the tax provisions. It also included a nine-month extension of the Farm Bill. Learn more…

The two-month delay from (ATRA) expired on March 1, 2013, and the 5.1 percent across the board cuts went into effect.  These cuts are shared equally between defense and non-defense programs.  Cuts impact discretionary (non-entitlement) programs – like WIC, TEFAP Administration (transportation and storage), Meals on Wheels, Title 1 education, Head Start, law enforcement, juvenile justice, LIHEAP and many others. Programs like SNAP, child nutrition, TEFAP commodities, and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program are protected from these cuts.

What happens next:

  • As Congress continues to negotiate a solution to sequestration cuts, the message remains consistent: “No cuts to SNAP, nutrition programs, including WIC, and safety net programs for the poor and vulnerable.”