For Immediate Release
Sequestration still a threat to military families: Congress must end it!
June 4, 2015
Alexandria, VA—Remember sequestration? When its automatic budget cuts went into effect two years ago, government workers were furloughed, commissaries had to cut hours, Air Force squadrons were grounded, and many service members couldn’t do necessary training to keep ready for their mission. While the Department of Defense (DoD) received some relief through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, sequestration didn’t go away and military readiness remains at risk. So do many of the programs most important to military families. Temporary solutions, such as including more money in the Overseas Contingency Operation accounts, just delay sequestration’s full pain and extend the uncertainty facing our military leaders, our troops, and their families.
The total effect of sequestration on military families remains unclear. What is clear is that military families do not deserve the uncertainty resulting from sequestration and the threat of more budget cuts: uncertainty about the availability of programs they rely on, uncertainty about whether their service member will receive the training they need to do their job safely, uncertainty over whether their service member will be downsized, uncertainty of not knowing what expense they will be asked to absorb next from their own pockets.
But, military families aren’t hurt only by sequestration’s toll on DoD. Vital programs in other agencies outside of the Department of Defense, such as the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and early childhood education, are also at risk. Impact Aid was one of the first casualties of sequestration cuts, because unlike other education programs, Impact Aid is current-year funded. Over the course of the past few years, NMFA has heard reports from school districts facing significant funding cuts due to sequestration. For example, the Killeen Independent School District, which serves 18,000 military children, faced the loss of more than $2.6 million in 2013. The President’s budget for FY 2016 would keep Impact Aid at the same level as this year. But that’s not enough relief for a program that is historically under-funded! Further sequestration cuts will have long-term consequences on school districts reliant on Impact Aid and the quality of education military children receive.
We agree with the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee that sequestration must be eliminated—now!