Order Code RS20005
Updated March 5, 2001
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Timetable for Sequestration Actions
Bill Heniff Jr.
Consultant in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Sequestration—the automatic across-the-board cancellation of budgetary resources
for the purpose of enforcing budgetary goals—was first established by the 1985 Balanced
Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act (Title II of P.L. 99-177). Section 254 of this
act, as amended, provides a timetable for sequestration actions.
Table 1. Timetable for Sequestration Actions
Action to be completed
5 days before the President’s
CBO sequestration preview report.
Date of the President’s budget
OMB sequestration preview report.
Notification regarding military personnel.
CBO sequestration update report.
OMB sequestration update report.
10 days after end of session
CBO final sequestration report.
15 days after end of session
OMB final sequestration report; presidential sequestration
Most of the actions required in the sequestration process are related to reports issued
by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office
(CBO). Only the final OMB report triggers any required sequestration. All of the other
reports are preliminary or advisory in nature.
The Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 (title XIII of P.L. 101-508) modified a
previously established sequestration process by creating separate sequestration rules for
discretionary spending funded through the appropriations process and for direct spending
and revenues. For more information on these procedures, see CRS Report RS20007, The
Sequestration Process. The required reports reflect both sequestration procedures.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
The preview reports provide estimates of total spending for the current year and each
subsequent year through FY2002 under the discretionary spending limits for each category
as well as any appropriate adjustments to the statutory caps. For direct spending and
revenues, the preview reports indicates the amount of net deficit increase or decrease
calculated under pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules, provides a list of laws and sequestrations
included in the calculation, specifies the budgetary effect of each law, and indicates the
percentage reduction required by any sequester to eliminate a deficit increase. The August
sequestration update reports include all the information required in the preview report,
updated to reflect the projected budget effects of laws enacted through the issue date. The
final sequestration reports (again reflecting the budget impact of laws enacted through the
issue date) must include all the information required in the preview report, the percentage
reduction and amount for each account for which a sequestration is required, and estimates
of the baseline level of sequestrable budgetary resources for each such account.
If the final sequestration report by the OMB director indicates that a sequestration
is necessary under the discretionary spending limits or the PAYGO rules, the President is
required to issue a sequestration order at the same time. A within-session discretionary
sequestration may occur 15 days after enactment of an appropriation for a current fiscal
year that causes a statutory limit to be breached, if Congress enacts such an appropriation
before July 1 of that fiscal year. If a violation of a discretionary spending limit occurs
during the last quarter of the fiscal year (i.e., July 1-September 30) that causes a breach
in a discretionary spending limit for the current fiscal year, the applicable spending limit
for the following fiscal year is reduced by that amount. A PAYGO sequestration,
however, is triggered only by the end-of-the-session sequestration report.
The President may exempt any military personnel account from sequestration or
provide for a lower uniform percentage reduction than would otherwise apply. However,
Congress must be notified on or before August 10 if the President plans to exercise this
Along with the deadlines included in the timetable, there are other time requirements
related to the sequestration process. First, OMB is required to submit cost estimates of
any direct spending or revenues legislation within 7 days of its enactment. Second, when
a sequestration order has been issued by the President, Congress has 20 calendar days to
introduce a joint resolution modifying the order. If a sequestration order is issued after
Congress adjourns, the 20-day limit would apply to the following session.
Finally, a report prepared by the General Accounting Office assessing compliance by
OMB and CBO with the requirements of the sequestration process may be requested by
either Budget Committee.