Sources: Spending bill reduced sequester to $80B

Under the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law, which details sequestration procedures, the accounts cut below sequestration levels credit back the difference to the general budget, an administration official explained.

“This change is another result of Congress passing the full-year spending bill last month,” the official said. “As a result, the total amount sequestered this year will be reduced for some agencies by a combined $4.9 billion. This does not change the underlying fact about sequestration, which is that it is bad policy that will have damaging consequences for the economy and the American people.”

Republicans and Democrats are still at loggerheads over how to replace the remaining $80 billion in indiscriminate cuts, with Democrats demanding some tax revenue be used and Republicans refusing.

Late last month, Congress swiftly gave the Federal Aviation Administration permission to move airport improvement funds into its personnel budget in order to prevent furloughs of air traffic controllers. Those furloughs were starting to cause travel delays.

Other sectors hit by the sequester are planning to lobbying Congress for their own piecemeal fixes. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) is promoting her bill to restore funding to cancer clinics and that could be the next to get a vote. 

In fiscal 2014, the law will require Congress to implement about a $117 billion automatic cut and similar automatic cuts continue for seven years after that, unless lawmakers can find a compromise way out. Unlike under sequestration, the future cuts will be made by appropriators rather than carried out mostly across-the-board.