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More Than 2,500 Organizations Call on US Congress to Avoid Fiscal Disaster, End Sequestration

image CC-BY-NC-ND by Wally Gobetz

Just weeks before federal funding runs out and draconian budget cuts stopped by a 2013 Congressional budget deal are scheduled to go back into effect, more than 2,500 national, state and local organizations—including ARL—are calling on Congress to avoid the impending fiscal crisis and end sequestration. NDD United, which represents organizations spanning interests as varied as education, public health, infrastructure, and law enforcement, released a letter (PDF) demanding Congress raise the spending caps and end sequestration through a bipartisan budget deal before October 1, 2015. A deal would prevent drastic cuts to programs for research and education, among others.

Sequester cuts to research and education are having negative impacts on the US scientific enterprise. It is well documented that federal investments in scientific research have led to innovations that span many disciplines and fields from breakthrough medical research to the development of the Internet. And failure to close the innovation deficit will have serious consequences for the US in making needed investments in STEM education at a time when other nations are increasing their support of STEM education.

“We’re running out of time to prevent another fiscal crisis, and once again, real Americans will pay the price for Congress’s inaction,” said Emily Holubowich, co-chair of NDD United.

“That’s why more than 2,500 organizations have come together to say, Raise the Caps,” added Joel Packer, co-chair of NDD United. “Enough is enough. We see the speeding train coming down the track, and we’re not doing nearly enough to stop it.”

More than 2,500 organizations represented by NDD United signed a letter (PDF) to Congress calling to avoid such budget tragedy. The letter reads in part:

The undersigned 2,500 national, state, and local organizations, representing the hundreds of millions of Americans who support and benefit from NDD programs, urge you to replace sequestration with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that takes into account the deep cuts NDD has already incurred since 2010. We also urge you to ensure such sequestration relief is equally balanced between NDD and defense programs; a parity precedent set in the 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) negotiated by Senator Patty Murray and Congressman Paul Ryan…There is bipartisan agreement that sequestration is bad policy and ultimately hurts our nation. It’s time to end the era of austerity.

In 2013, Congress approved a bipartisan budget deal that relieved the impacts of sequestration for 2014 and 2015. This “Murray-Ryan” deal temporarily masked sequestration’s true impact. With sequestration relief expiring October 1 and appropriations bills now being written to the sequestered spending caps, we are seeing the difficult tradeoffs necessitated by woefully inadequate and historically low levels of spending after years of deficit reduction. In fact, current NDD funding is the lowest level on record dating back to the Eisenhower administration, relative to the size of the economy.

Discretionary programs, including nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs—ranging from education and job training, to housing and science, to natural resources and veterans services, to public health, safety and security—have been cut dramatically and disproportionately in recent years as lawmakers work to reduce the deficit, even though experts across the political spectrum agree these programs aren’t a driving factor behind our nation’s mid- and long-term fiscal challenges.

In 2013, NDD United released a comprehensive, sector-by-sector impact report, Faces of Austerity, which detailed how real Americans are feeling the negative effects of austerity. For a copy of the report or to learn more about NDD United, please visit http://nddunited.org/.

About ARL

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.

About NDD United

NDD United is a coalition of leaders joining forces in an effort to save nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs from more devastating cuts. NDD programs are core functions government provides for the benefit of all, including medical research, public health, and education, among others. Every day these programs support economic growth and strengthen the safety and security of every American in every state and community across the nation. NDD United is on the web at http://nddunited.org/.