Legislation forcing the White House to explain how the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration will affect individual agencies is now waiting for President Barack Obama’s signature.
The Senate unanimously approved the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 Wednesday, which requires the administration to detail within 30 days how the $1.2 trillion over 10 years in automatic cuts will be applied. The House passed its version of the bill last week in a 414-2 vote.
Congress has attempted to wrest information from the administration about how the cuts will be applied and which agencies and programs are exempt. However, answers from the Office of Management and Budget have been hard to come by, in part, because the agency says because it does not maintain a list of programs exempt from sequestration.
The administration has maintained that the automatic cuts would be destructive and that Congress should work to pass an alternative.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced the Senate version of the bill. He called the vote Wednesday a “clear and united call for more transparency.”
He said the report that the bill requires the President to compile for Congress will provide lawmakers more information on the long-term effects of sequestration and aid them in setting fiscal 2013 appropriations.
In both chambers of Congress, the transparency bill garnered bipartisan support.
A group of senators, led by Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and John McCain (R-McCain) first attached a measure requiring the administration to provide details on the cuts as an amendment to the massive farm bill the Senate passed last month.
Murray praised the Senate’s passage of the bill.
“Everyone should understand that sequestration is a terrible way to cut spending, so I am hopeful that the more information my colleagues receive about its impact, the more they will be willing to move off of their partisan positions and work with us toward a balanced and bipartisan replacement,” she said in a release.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, who helped steer the bill through that chamber, called it a “vital step” in learning how sequestration will impact civilian agencies and the defense budget.
“Strong bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate show that taxpayers and the troops deserve a more complete picture from the administration on how these arbitrary, across-the-board spending cuts will be implemented,” he said in a release.