Obama Sets Meeting with Congressional Leaders regarding Sequester
President Barack Obama set a meeting with Republican congressional leaders to prevent the deep spending cuts to take effect Friday. The president will urge the Republicans to accept higher tax revenue as part of the solution. The Republicans are likely to reply that they have already agreed at the start of the year to more than $600 billion in new taxes.
This will be the first formal meeting between President Obama and congressional leaders with regards to the so-called sequester. It comes after weeks of blaming each other for the spending cuts. An administration official said that the president will ask the Republican leaders to name a tax break they are willing to end to prevent the spending cuts.
Republicans are doubtful that the meeting will be useful. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that replacing spending cuts that both parties have agreed to with tax increases is unacceptable. He added that the Republicans will work with the administration to get something done.
The spending cuts in domestic and defense programs will take effect Friday. This is the same day that President Obama will meet with House Speaker John A. Boehner, McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The spending cuts would trim $85 billion from federal spending for the rest of the fiscal year 2013.
The Senate has scheduled to cast a vote Thursday on replacing the sequester with tax increases on the rich. The Democratic measure is likely to fail as well as the GOP alternative that would give the president more flexibility to set where the cuts would be made.
House Republicans are already looking past the meeting with the president on Friday as they prepare for the next budget battle. They agreed to put a measure on the floor next week that would stop a government shutdown on March 27. The bill would provide funding for the government until the rest of the fiscal year but would allow the sequester to continue. It would place new protections from cuts to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Pentagon.