posted on February 04, 2013 13:33
As the next fiscal showdown looms, the U.S. Congress continues its legislative logjam. Despite the looming sequester, one of the pieces of legislation the House is devoting time to is a bill that blames President Obama for the nation’s deficits. However, sequestration, once viewed as doom and gloom, is now slowly starting to be considered a viable option.
For weeks, momentum has been steadily growing in Congress to allow the $85 billion in cuts – slated to go into effect March 1. Democrats are demanding revenue raisers to avoid it, and Republicans, hell-bent on not giving ground again on the heels of the New Year’s fiscal-cliff deal, are insisting on entitlement reform. The two parties are not even paying lip service to the notion of trying to work together to avert the coming cuts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), when asked on Feb. 1 whether he would require revenue in any deal that averts sequestration cuts, responded: "The answer is definitely yes. And I've got a pretty good fan base for that: the American people: Republicans, Democrats, and independents."
Reid, speaking on ABC's This Week, also said that Democrats would resist a deal that would spare defense cuts at the expense of domestic cuts. Unless a deal is reached by March, the automatic cuts will begin. Aides tell The Wall Street Journal that the two sides remain far apart, and many Senate Republicans believe that the sequester cuts will be implemented, at least for a brief period.
As the countdown to the sequester nears, lawmakers and niche groups worried about it are anticipating a barrage of damning news stories to emerge, chronicling the cuts’ effects as they trickle down to state and local projects—and thus harm House members in their districts back home where it counts the most. The theory is that those stories will supply lawmakers with the pressure and political cover they need to try to tinker with, forestall, or halt sequestration, particularly as they grapple with what to do about the continuing resolution to fund the federal government that will run out March 27.
“Both Democrats and Republicans need the folks who will be affected by the cuts to get out there and vociferously argue that they should be stopped,” Stan Collender, a former aide to the House and Senate Budget committees, told National Journal. “Neither side could propose to just cancel the thing outright before the press has stormed the castle with pitchforks.”