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Senate Report Estimates Consequences of Sequestration on Health, Education Programs

July 27, 2012—Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) July 25 released a report prepared by the committee’s majority staff outlining state-specific estimates of how sequestration in FY 2013 will impact select appropriated programs at the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Education, and Labor.

The report, Under Threat: Sequestration’s Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services, bases its projections on a 7.8 percent cut to the FY 2012 budgets for 15 HHS programs that are funded in the subcommittee’s annual spending bill, including medical research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

For example, referencing a recent estimate from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that sequestration would lead to 700 fewer grants to medical researchers than in FY 2012, the report notes that such a cut would translate to “700 fewer opportunities to pursue scientific opportunities that could lead to medical treatments and cures.” The document also includes excerpts from testimony NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., presented to the subcommittee March 28, that the funding loss would have consequences for both basic and applied research, across all fields of science, and “would hit particularly heavily upon first-time investigators” [see Washington Highlights, March 30].

The report also offers broad observations about investments in health and education programs compared to defense spending, citing a December 2011 study from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, finding “that investing $1 billion in health care or education creates significantly more jobs within the U.S. economy than spending $1 billion on the military” (54 percent more jobs in health care and 138 percent in education).

In the report, Chairman Harkin also describes the shrinking scope of nondefense discretionary spending, noting that “[b]y 2021, this category of spending will account for just 2.8 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, its lowest level in more than 50 years.” He states, “It defies not only reason, but also fairness and equality, to suggest that we can erase our national debt by slashing critical priorities like education and medical research while holding Pentagon spending harmless and expecting the wealthiest among us to sacrifice nothing.”

Meanwhile, advocates for nondefense discretionary spending gathered at a July 25 rally featuring Chairman Harkin, House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and other speakers.


Tannaz Rasouli
Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
Telephone: 202-828-0525


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