Automatic spending cuts set to take effect Jan. 2 unless the U.S. Congress acts would chop about $1.5 billion out of NASA’s $17.8 billion budget, according to a 392-page report the White House Office of Management and Budget released Sept. 14.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), meanwhile, would lose about $400 million of its $5 billion budget for 2013.

The $110 billion in looming cuts, known as sequestration, are mandated under the Budget Control Act of 2011. Under the law, adopted in August 2011, Congress agreed to appoint a 12-person bipartisan “supercommittee” to come up with a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The supercommittee’s failure to reach agreement last year started the countdown on automatic spending cuts split evenly between domestic and defense programs.

Unless Congress and the White House can come to terms on a plan to head off sequestration, defense spending will be cut 9.4 percent while nondefense discretionary spending — the category that includes NASA and NOAA — will be reduced 8.2 percent.

The White House warned in the report that such cuts “would have a devastating impact to important defense and nondefense programs.”



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