Republicans and Democrats voted against both proposed solutions to the sequester on Thursday guaranteeing that the scheduled budget cuts will take effect on Friday. The Democrat sponsored alternative would have replaced the $85 billion in cuts with tax increases on the wealthy and cuts on defense and farm spending, it failed 51-49. The Republican backed proposal would delay the sequester until March 15th, and provide President Obama with the discretion to make appropriate budget cuts. The plan also failed 38-62.
The ensuing week will be consumed with pointed rhetoric assigning blame amongst both parties. Unfortunately, another proposal by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H, wasn’t even considered for a vote:
“My proposal won’t get a vote today. I think this is a time, frankly, when we need to bring more ideas to the floor, not less ideas. I firmly believe that we should have a vote today on every proposal, and I think anything less is a disservice to the American people, who are demanding that we start governing. It is time for us to pass a budget to prioritize spending.”
Sen. Ayotte’s bill, entitled the “2013 Sequester Replacement and Spending Reduction Act”, would target unemployment benefits for the wealthy, as well as overpayments to Medicaid and Medicare. In addition the legislation included non-detrimental defense cuts that have been considered wasteful by both parties.
The draft included numerous provisions that both Democrats and Republicans supported, such as requiring federal employees to pay more into their pensions, a plan that the Obama administration has already proposed:
“Federal agency contributions for currently accruing costs of employee pensions would decline, these employers would pay an additional amount toward unfunded liabilities of the retirement system that would leave total agency contributions unchanged over the 10-year budget window.”
President Obama continues to assign blame to Republicans claiming that they’ve been “unwilling to compromise”. Yet when another solution gets sent to the floor, it isn’t even considered for a vote. It would appear that the Democrats are content to let the sequester take effect and hedge their bets that the blame will fall on Republicans; another regretful display of partisan politics.