In 2013, sequester relief came in the form of a strong bipartisan agreement, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, crafted by Chairman Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray that raised spending caps in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.  That relief from sequestration will expire in 2016. We fear now more than ever that programs that help kids and families in the areas of health, education, nutrition, safety and housing assistance will be cut if nothing is done.

That is why First Focus took action and signed a letter to Congress and the President that emphasizes (1) the importance of nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs, (2) the harmful effects of budget cuts to date, and (3) the equal importance of both defense and nondefense programs in America’s security at home and abroad, and thus the need for equal sequestration relief.  More than 2,100 national, state, and local organizations signed this letter led by NDD United so as to speak with one voice and urge Congress to prevent further cuts and restore funding to programs.

First Focus urges bipartisan efforts to address sequestration and protect programs that help our nation’s children in 2016 and beyond. So far, Congress and the President have not been able to agree on other deficit reduction to replace the damaging cuts. As work begins on the 2016 budget, it is critical that Congress and the President come together to find a replacement to sequestration to allow the government to keep making appropriate investments in children.

First Focus is encouraged by the President’s 2016 budget proposal that would eliminate sequestration for non-defense discretionary programs in FY16, resulting in an increase of $37 billion in non-defense discretionary spending. Despite these increases, kids and families are still starting from behind as those investments are below pre-sequester levels.