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OMB: Budget deal spares further sequester cuts

Feb. 17, 2014 - 02:48PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Thanks to the budget dal, the Justice Departnment can end a hiring freeze, according to Attorney General Eric Holder. (Wikimedia Commons)

Federal agencies will not face any additional sequester-related spending cuts for fiscal 2014 following passage of December’s bipartisan budget deal, the Office of Management and Budget confirmed in a report this month.

Under the deal, Congress agreed to partially roll back discretionary spending reductions previously mandated in 2011, leaving total defense spending—not counting funding for the Afghanistan war—at $520.5 billion and total spending on other programs at $491.8 billion this year. Lawmakers also reworked the caps for next year to keep overall discretionary spending at about the same benchmark; for 2015, the caps on security and non-security spending are $521.3 billion and $492.4 billion respectively, according to the OMB report.

Since the budget agreement, President Obama has also signed a full-year appropriations package for 2014. Follow-up spending estimates for the year indicate that no sequester is required, OMB Director Sylvia Burwell said in the cover letter to the congressionally required report, which is dated Feb. 7 and was previously reported by Government Executive.

Across-the-board sequester cuts are required under the 2011 Budget Control Act into the next decade after lawmakers and the White House failed to agree on a path to reduce long-term expected deficits by $1.2 trillion. Last year’s sequester forced the Defense Department, OMB and other agencies to furlough hundreds of thousands of workers. With agencies now assured of this year’s funding, some have relaxed hiring restrictions and other cost-cutting steps.

The Justice Department, for example, has lifted a partial hiring freeze in place since 2011 that had led to the loss of more than 4,000 employees, Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week.

“After years of doing more with less, we will begin to fill critical vacancies,” Holder said in a video message to DOJ workers. “And we will resume the normal hiring process for federal agencies, prosecutors, analysts and the other staff we need to fulfill our mission.”

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