Republicans in the Senate who might be interested in a deal that would pair tax reform that produces new revenues with cuts to entitlement programs are the target of Democrats and the President, who are pushing legislation to do just that.
President Obama has arranged to make a rare visit to Capitol Hill to meet separately with the Democratic and Republican caucuses in both the House and Senate in an effort to workout such a plan.
While entitlements were shielded from the sequester, the legislation is designed for cuts to hit year after year for the next decade. A total $1.2 trillion in cuts are slated to be taken. Some domestic and military programs were particularly hard hit.
The House voted to fund the government through the end of this fiscal year. It is the first step toward a broader budget discussion that would ensure that no major showdown occurs this month over simply keeping government’s doors open.
The measure passed the House and would provide new flexibility to the Pentagon to manage the sequester’s deep, automatic spending cuts, but would otherwise leave the reductions in place for the year.
House Democrats pushed to be allowed to vote on an alternative that would replace the sequester with a mixture of higher taxes and different spending cuts. A total of 137 Democrats voted against the bill to register their unhappiness with allowing sequestration to remain in place. Fifty-three Democrats joined 214 Republicans in voting for it. Fourteen members did not vote.
“This has an impact right at the kitchen table for the American people,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), detailing some of the impacts of the broad spending cuts.
Senate Democrats and the President have signaled that they will seek some amendments to the Republican-authored bill to help blunt the impacts of the $85 billion in cuts this fiscal year for domestic programs as well.
Bipartisan optimism exists that those changes be well accepted and that a final version of the bill will be adopted by the end of the month.
House Republicans were largely united behind their bill, with only 14 casting votes in opposition. Even conservatives who tend to vote against all funding bills, seeking even deeper spending cuts, embraced the bill authored by the GOP leadership