The White House has retroactively suspended a school, emergency services and infrastructure funding program.

The Secure Rural Schools Act, which began in 2000, provides millions of dollars from timber-related sales to communities and schools near national forests. 26 counties in Washington get some of the money, including Walla Walla and Yakima.

Last fall, prior to the sequester, Congress approved an extension of the program and it was signed by the president. However the U.S. Forest Service announced this week the program will be subject to sequester cuts.

U.S. Representative Doc Hastings issued a strongly-worded statement protesting what he called the "retroactive" cuts in the program that had already been signed into law. From the Hastings press release:

To decide three months later, and 20 days after the sequester took effect, that funds authorized by Congress nearly a year ago and paid out three months ago are subject to sequester is not only legally-questionable, but another obvious example of the Obama Administration going out of its way to make spending cuts as ‘painful as promised.’"

The funding helps communities in rural areas hire teachers, law enforcement, emergency services and infrastructure. Hastings went on to say :

The President should be working with Congress on making smart and responsible cuts and reforms – not using the sequester as a tool to score political points on the backs of rural schools and communities by demanding refunds of dollars used to pay teacher and police salaries.”

What effects the loss of funding will have on schools, law enforcement and emergency services in these 26 counties is not yet known.

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