The Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25) established caps on federal discretionary spending over 10 years, resulting in $1 trillion in cuts spread across defense and nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs. The law also directed a congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in budgetary savings over ten years. The failure of the bi-partisan “super committee” to come to an agreement on a deficit reduction plan triggered a “sequester” to take effect on January 2, 2013.
To sequester means to set apart or to take something away until a debt has been repaid. In the context of funding federal programs, sequester means imminent, across-the-board cuts to most programs, both defense and nondefense—in addition to the $1 trillion in cuts already sustained through the Budget Control Act’s discretionary caps.
Unfortunately, the federal agencies will have no say in what gets cut, they will be strictly across the board. Each program will have the same cut of 7.8 percent, which they will not be able to save soley in administrative costs, programs will be cut. This will have dire consequences for agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Defense (DOD), both of which fund mesothelioma research.
A sequester would have a devastating effect on medical research, as a 7.8 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health(NIH) would result in fewer medical research grants being granted. In 2012, the NIH funded 23 grants to mesothelioma research. Theoretically, a 7.8 percent cut would mean 2 less grants would be made to mesothelioma research in 2013. These cuts will stifle medical discoveries that lead to better treatments and ultimately a cure for mesothelioma.
Sequestration can be avoided if Congress passes a deficit reduction proposal that is acceptable to the administration by January 2013. The administration has stated repeatedly that it will not accept a plan that only depends on spending cuts and has requested that Congress pass a balanced deficit reduction plan that also increases revenue through tax reform.
The Meso Foundation will be closely following this issue, please stay tuned for updates and opportunities to take action.