Newspaper article Roll Call

Senate Set to Turn Back Democratic and GOP Sequester Alternatives

Newspaper article Roll Call

Senate Set to Turn Back Democratic and GOP Sequester Alternatives

Article excerpt

The Senate is expected to defeat Thursday competing Democratic and Republican alternatives to the $85.3 billion in automatic spending cuts scheduled to begin Friday.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., proposes to replace the percentage cuts imposed by a provision of the 2011 debt limit agreement with a package of revenue increases and alternative savings.

Senate Republicans settled late Wednesday on a sequester substitute that would give President Barack Obama until March 15 to send Congress an alternative package of targeted spending cuts. Lawmakers could block the president's plan only by adopting within seven days a resolution of disapproval that would require Obama's signature or the support of a veto-proof majority.

The Republican alternative would rule out tax increases or increases in any non-defense accounts. No more than half the president's proposed cuts could come from the defense portion of the budget, and defense cuts would have to be consistent with policies established by the fiscal 2013 defense authorization law (PL 112- 239).

The president's plan would need to have the effect of reducing government outlays by at least $82.5 billion over six years.

Reid predicted the Republican plan will be soundly rejected by majority Democrats. But his own plan is also likely to be rejected. Many Republicans refuse to support any tax increase.

Thursday's votes will come on motions to invoke cloture, or limit debate, on motions to proceed to the Democratic and Republican sequester alternatives. Neither plan is expected to muster the 60 votes needed to advance. Barring some last-minute bipartisan, bicameral compromise, the scheduled automatic cuts would be in effect when Obama sends an implementation order to the Office of Management and Budget sometime Friday.

Senate Republicans discussed various sequester alternatives during their caucus luncheon Wednesday, including the plan to give the president spending cut flexibility proposed by James M. …

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