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Sequestration, Boater Impacts still Possible

February  13, 2013

Over the last two years, there have been several budget crises in Washington, each averted by passing a Continuing Resolution that allows the government to keep operating for a set period of time. During the last major budget impasse, Congress and the White House agreed to the Deficit Reduction Act in August of 2011. It called for establishing a “Supercommittee” in Congress charged with cutting at least $1.2 trillion in spending.  If it could not reach consensus, across–the-board cuts would be set in motion, called sequestration.

In October of 2011, that Supercommittee, a bi-partisan group of 12 Senators and Congressmen, failed to agree on a plan and the clock started to wind down toward sequestration. Then, in late December 2012 Congress and the White House passed another Continuing Resolution, only delaying sequestration and the negative impact that it could have for boaters. As things stand now, if all parties do not agree on a budget by March 1, 2013, it will trigger $110 billion of across-the-board cuts including sequestering – or withholding - $43 million in Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (SFRBTF) dollars.

That trust fund derives about $650 million annually from sales and excise taxes boaters and anglers pay on boat fuel and fishing equipment, and while a “user-pay, user-benefit” type of fund is rarely placed on the chopping block, we have been apprised that this time it will be affected. 

At this point a portion of your federal boating dollars, $9 million in boating safety funds plus about $34 million for fisheries conservation, will be frozen until a budget agreement is reached.

The trust fund itself will continue to accumulate revenue but the money will not be available until the House and Senate can agree on a budget and the President approves it.

BoatU.S. Government Affairs staff continues to monitor this issue to protect these important boater dollars, so please stay tuned to www.boatus.com/govaffairs for sequestration updates