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House Panel Votes on Sequester

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan awaits the arrival of ranking member Chris Van Hollen before the panel began consideration of a measure Monday that would pre-empt across-the-board spending cuts set to begin in 2013.

Democrats, on the other hand, wasted no time slamming the proposal. Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen said the GOP plan placed the burden squarely on low-income Americans rather than asking corporations and the wealthy to chip in. He said the plan is an extension of the GOP budget.

“That unfair and unbalanced approach focused only on cutting investments and services rather than closing tax loopholes,” the Maryland lawmaker said. “I know it makes people feel better to think these cuts don’t have real world consequences, but they do.”

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) jabbed the Republican party as draconian, extreme and “reverse Robin Hoods” who are out of touch with the mainstream.

The GOP proposal was panned in the Senate as well, where Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (Wash.) said in a statement that until Republicans put revenue on the table as part of a deal to undo the sequester, they are on their own in the endeavor.

“Today Republicans continue their mad dash away from that deal in order to protect the wealthy from paying a penny more,” Murray said. “The reality is that the only way to avoid sequestration is to work with us on a balanced and fair approach that protects middle-class families. Until Republicans realize that, they will only be negotiating with themselves.” Murray was a co-chairwoman of the super committee.

Six committees approved the replacement cuts, all of which come from mandatory spending accounts. They would cut funding for things such as food stamps, the health care reform law and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, and they would convert aid to states and communities to block grants.

Democrats tried futilely for hours to propose alternative cuts, which would preserve children’s health care programs or the health care law and instead close loopholes for big oil companies and corporations that ship jobs overseas. But those proposals, which would have instructed the Rules Committee to make the proposals in order as amendments, were roundly voted down along party lines.

The reconciliation proposal adds another obstruction to the lame-duck
session bottleneck of expiring provisions, which includes the Bush-era tax cuts, a payroll tax cut and scores of tax extenders.

Until then, and during the election season, Republicans and Democrats will likely fire off messages that mirror Monday’s markup talking points.

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