House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) has reintroduced the Relief from Sequestration Act to repeal automatic cuts for discretionary and mandatory spending, he said in an April 4 press release.

The bill would end the prospect of sequestration for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the final two years that are subject to the automatic spending cuts under the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). Smith previously introduced the bill at the beginning of the 115th Congress in 2017. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced it at the beginning of the 114th Congress in 2015.

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, DC.

“These cuts have impacted our economy, affected our government, and harmed our nation,” Smith said in the Thursday release. He noted that Congress has previously delayed the BCA’s $1.2 trillion in cuts from fully taking effect. The sole year that the automatic cuts were triggered was fiscal year 2013.

“As sequestration has proven, haphazard cuts are not effective in reducing the debt. Any sustainable fiscal plan should include a thoughtful budgeting approach that incorporates targeted reductions and increases in revenue.”

Pentagon leaders have frequently cited sequestration as the number-one threat to military readiness. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said during a Thursday Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that a potential return to automatic spending cuts in FY ’20 would affect $29 billion in procurement and research-and-development programs or in operations and maintenance efforts (Defense Daily, April 4).

House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a two-year spending bill that would raise the spending limits imposed by the Budget Control Act, rather than eliminate them altogether. The Investing for the People Act of 2019 sets the defense cap for 2020 at $664 billion – a 2.6 percent increase over the enacted 2019 cap of $576 billion – and $680 billion for 2021 (Defense Daily, April 2).