CR Deadline May Loom Larger than Trigger Date for Sequestration
With Democrats and Republicans holding fast to diametrically opposed approaches to replacing $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts slated to take effect March 1, the best hope for reversing sequestration likely will come as part of a possible deficit reduction deal the two parties will need to strike to avoid shutting down the federal government after March 27.
Democrats, including President Obama, want to undo sequestration by replacing the automatic cuts with a combination of alternate spending reductions and new tax revenue, an option Republicans say they will not consider after allowing taxes to be raised on the wealthiest Americans as part of the New Year’s Eve agreement to avert the fiscal cliff. Republicans, meanwhile, are looking for changes to entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and no tax increases.
“It’s going to happen,” Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said about sequestration, reported CQ News.
Beyond the two sides’ intractability, budget watchers also are pointing to the fiscal cliff deal as increasing the likelihood that sequestration will be imposed this year. In postponing the cuts for two months, the measure shaved $24 billion from the required government-wide savings in FY 2013, making sequestration a little easier to swallow.
Most defense accounts, which would have been slashed by 9.4 percent under sequestration this year, now would be cut by only 7.3 percent, estimated Richard Kogan, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, reported CQ.
But the sequester still could be addressed as part of negotiations to fund the government after the existing continuing resolution (CR) for fiscal 2013 expires, albeit almost a month after the cuts take effect.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is planning to begin carrying out one-day-a-week furloughs for civilian employees in mid-April if sequestration is triggered on March 1, Politico reported Friday. Officials plan to submit a request to Congress next month to approve the furloughs, which would last through Sept. 30.