A 1985 law governing sequestration has kicked in and reduced the automatic $85 billion budget cuts by about $4.9 billion, or six percent.
The bulk of the refund ($4.4 billion) is going to the departments of Defense ($3.7 billion) and State ($700 million), while the rest is spread out over a variety of other agencies.
The $4.9 billion correction is based on the full-year spending bill Congress recently passed. It reduces the sequestration budget cuts by about six percent.
Speaking to "The Right Views" on background, an administration official explained the $4.9 billion reversal:
"This change is another result of Congress passing the full-year spending bill last month. In some places, Congress added money to accounts. But they had to make that up by cutting other accounts further. Under the law, if they cut those accounts below their post-sequester level, there is a provision that credits back some of the funds.
"As a result, the total amount sequestered this year will be reduced for some agencies by a combined $4.9 billion.
"This provision applies when a sequestration of discretionary spending is ordered while the government is operating under a part-year CR. When the full-year appropriation is enacted, the law (section 253(f) of BBEDCA) requires that the amount of the sequestration be reduced when the full-year appropriation is less than the baseline level for that account. The "baseline level" is defined as the annualized level for each account in the part-year CR minus the dollar amount of discretionary resources sequestered in each account, as listed in the March 1 order."
The administration official went on to say that, even with this refund, sequestration is "bad policy" that will do more harm than good:
"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."
The OMB's Final Sequestration Report to the President and Congress for Fiscal Year 2013 complies with section 254 of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (BBEDCA), which sets forth the rules of sequestration.