The term sequestration means to remove the authority to enter into obligation previously provided by Congress should certain predetermined events occur. By removing the authority to enter into obligations, the budgetary resources already provided have been “cancelled”.
Sequestration (Budget Enforcement Act Term)
Under Budget Enforcement Act (BEA) provisions, which expired in 2002, the cancellation of budgetary resources provided by discretionary appropriations or direct spending laws. New budget authority, unobligated balances, direct spending authority, and obligation limitations were “sequestrable” resources; that is, they were subject to reduction or cancellation under a presidential sequester order. (See also Budgetary Resources; Entitlement Authority; Gramm-Rudman-Hollings; Impoundment; Rescission.)
Reports by the Congressional Research Service
Definitions of Sequester and Sequestrable Resource
Sequester: Pursuant to [the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985], a presidential spending reduction order that occurs by reducing spending by uniform percentages.
Sequestrable Resource: Pursuant to [the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985] federal funding authority (budgetary resources) subject to reductions under a presidential sequester order for achieving required outlay reductions (in non-exempt programs).
[The Congressional Budget Process: An Explanation, Appendix J (Glossary), Committee on the Budget of the U.S. Senate, S. Prt. 105-67 (Revised December 1998).]