Cyclopedia of Congressional Budget Law



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”.

GAO Glossary of Terms and Definitions (September 2005)

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 ResourcesEntitlement AuthorityGramm-Rudman-HollingsImpoundmentRescission.)

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Reports by the Congressional Research Service

CRS – Sequestration as a Budget Enforcement Process Frequently Asked Questions (R42972) February 2, 2013

CRS – Techniques for Preventing a Budget Sequester (RL31155) Updated March 8, 2002

CRS – Sequestration Procedures Under the 1985 Balanced Budget Act (RL31137) September 27, 2001

Congressional Budget Process: An Explanation (Senate Budget Committee)

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).]

Sequestration Reports

OMB Sequestration Reports
CBO Sequestration Reports

Link to Sequestration Reports to the President and Congress (OMB)





Sequestration Preview Report