It is called a sequester. It is a set of automatic spending cuts that will take effect on January 3 unless Congress enacts some legislation to stop it.
The White House on Friday revealed where the $1.2 trillion in cuts would come from: half from domestic programs and half from defense spending.
The ranking member of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), says there is a lot at stake.
"It would be devastating to the economy, and to things like NIH researchers, air traffic controllers, border security, even the FBI," says Van Hollen. "All kinds of federal agencies will see these buzz saw cuts."
The sequester cuts were triggered after a supercommittee failed to reach a budget deal.
"To stop it, you have to raise taxes and cut spending," Rep. Adam Smith, (D-Wash.). "That's what has to happen."
While the two sides try to hammer out a deal, others are breathing a sigh of relief because of some major exemptions for veteran's benefits and the salaries of military personnel.
"You certainly don't want people who are serving the country overseas to suddenly see their pay cut for no apparent reason," says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Congressional Budget Office Director. "The president will exempt those military personnel accounts."
Despite the differences, most analysts expect a deal before the new year begins.