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What is sequestration and what does it mean? Sequestration refers to the automatic spending cuts that are required under the 2011 Budget Control Act. This law required $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts to mandatory and discretionary programs, to begin in 2013, if Congress failed to pass legislation that would reduce the nation’s deficit by at least $1.5 trillion during the next decade. The failure of Congress to pass any deficit reduction legislation has triggered the automatic cuts required under sequestration. These across-the-board cuts are set to begin January 2, 2013, and continue for the next 10 years. The cuts must be split equally between security and non-security programs, according to the Budget Control Act. Some programs are exempt from these cuts – including Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare beneficiaries, civil service and military employee pay, and veterans benefits. However, most programs will see automatic cuts across every budget line item. In July, Congress passed legislation that requires the White House to provide details on how agencies will carry out the first round of cuts, which amount to $110 billion. In response, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum on July 31 stating that it would begin working with agencies on such plans barring congressional action on a “balanced deficit reduction plan”.
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