HUD Chief: Sequester Could Expose Thousands of Children to Lead Poisoning

By Penny Starr | February 18, 2013 | 12:34 PM EST

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. ( photo/Penny Starr)

( – The automatic spending cuts to the federal budget that will take place beginning March 1 unless sequestration is prevented could expose thousands of children to lead poisoning and other toxins, according to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.

“Cuts to our office of healthy homes and lead hazard control and related programs would result in more than 3,000 of the most vulnerable children not being protected from lead poisoning or other hazards in their homes,” Donovan said Thursday at a hearing on the sequester portion of the Budget Control Act of 2012.

The Senate Appropriations Committee held the hearing to allow members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet – including Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano – to detail the damage that would be done with the implementation of the federal statute, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Aug. 2, 2011.

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Donovan said the cuts -- referred to as "The Sequester" -- would be “deeply destructive” to HUD’s programs and the “hundreds of thousands of middle class and low-income individuals” who rely on them.

Sequestration, the imposition of automatic spending cuts in the federal budget, was placed in the Budget Control Act of 2011 to push Congress to reduce the annual deficit by $1.2 billion by the end of 2012. That deadline was postponed to March 1.

If lawmakers fail to avert “the sequester,” automatic cuts -- including cuts to the defense budget -- will be triggered.

Danny Werfel, federal controller with the Office of Management and Budget and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter also testified at the hearing.

(Editor's Note: Werfel is not to be confused with former NFL and University of Florida player Danny Wuerffel.)

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