Doomed sequester bills await Senate vote

Both Democrats and Republicans have bills to stop the cuts, and each bill is expected to fail

By Jillian Rayfield

Published February 28, 2013 2:35PM (EST)

The Senate will take up rival bills from Democrats and Republicans on Thursday, in a likely doomed effort to stop the harsh sequester cuts from going into effect on Friday.

The Associated Press lays out the Democrats' bill:

Democrats controlling the Senate are pushing a $110 billion plan that would block the cuts through the end of the year. They would carve 5 percent from domestic agencies and 8 percent from the Pentagon but would leave several major programs alone, including Social Security, Medicaid and food stamps, while limiting the cuts to Medicare to a 2 percent reduction to health care providers like doctors and hospitals.

And, from Politico, the Republicans':

The final 10-page bill, released Wednesday evening, would require Obama to come back to Congress by March 15 with his own plan to achieve the same level of cuts, rather than the across-the-board sequester. Lawmakers could yet overrule the president’s plan, but that would require two-thirds majorities in both houses — a very unlikely event.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled his blessing early in the day. But the strategy, crafted by his ally Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), continued to meet resistance at a party luncheon and even supporters admitted reservations about giving up so much power to the president.

Neither bill is expected to have the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster and pass out of the Senate.

In any case, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week, both sides have quietly shifted focus from the sequester to averting a government shutdown, which has a looming March 27 deadline. On Friday, President Obama will meet with congressional leaders on the subject.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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