By Michelle Diament
February 11, 2013
The White House is urging Congress to take action to avert a series of deep spending cuts expected to impact special education and other disability-related programs within weeks.
President Barack Obama is calling on lawmakers to pass a short-term budget deal to stall the automatic spending cuts scheduled to impact nearly all government programs come March 1. At that point, across-the-board cutbacks totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years are expected under a process known as sequestration that was triggered when Congress failed to reach a budget deal in 2011.
“The result could be a huge blow to middle-class families and our economy as a whole,” Obama said in his weekly radio address Saturday, in which he cited Americans with disabilities as one group that would be impacted by the cuts.
The White House said that everything from health services to rental assistance programs are at risk if Congress does not intervene.
Specifically, funding for as many as 7,200 special education teachers, aides and staff may be chopped, research dollars provided through the National Institutes of Health would be on the line, mental health offerings would be reduced and Social Security services would be curtailed, the administration said.
While Republicans are not high on sequestration either, the looming cuts are presenting potential for yet another impasse between the political parties. Republicans are pressing for any budget deal to include more spending reductions while Obama favors a mix of cuts and increased tax revenue.