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GOP, Cheney Will Press for Defense

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders are pressing for a vote on a bill to force the administration to prepare a report about the sequestration’s effects on defense programs.

If Republicans would agree to raise taxes on high-income earners, a senior Democratic aide said, both chambers could deal with sequestration and a slew of other issues that make up the “fiscal cliff.”

“That’s the obvious counter,” the aide said. “If Republicans are willing to put revenues on the table, real revenues, then we can have a grand bargain, I think within the week.”

The Senate has already voted on a version of the sequestration report bill. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) came up with a compromise version that includes a study not only into the defense cuts but also the effect on the middle class, environment, jobs, infrastructure and other issues.

The Senate measure would give the administration 60 days to prepare the report.

It’s unclear how much effort either side is willing to exert to reconcile the two.

The Senate version was tacked to the Senate farm bill, and in the absence of willingness among House Republican leaders to put a farm bill on the floor before November, it seems unlikely that will be the vehicle for the sequestration bill.

GOP aides said Monday that House leadership’s position on the farm bill had not changed since last week. The measure will almost certainly not come to the floor before the August recess, and even afterward, chances are slim.

But members of the Agriculture Committee are still making the push. Rep. Kristi Noem, a freshman member of Republican leadership, told Roll Call last week that she is encouraging leadership to bring the bill to the floor, despite that fact that it could not likely pass with a simple Republican majority.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) “know I’m not happy at the thought that we won’t get our work done,” the South Dakota lawmaker said. “I understand that they wonder if we can get it passed on the House floor. It’s going to be a tough vote and we can’t do it without Democratic support.”

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