The House overwhelmingly passed a bill to require President Barack Obama’s administration to outline the effects of a scheduled $1.2 trillion across-the-board cut to defense and discretionary spending.
The Sequestration Transparency Act, which passed 414-2, directs the Office of Management and Budget to prepare, within 30 days of passage, a report on how the administration would achieve the cuts, particularly the $500 billion mandated cut to security programs.
Republicans saw the vote as an effort to put pressure on Obama and make him own the sequestration cuts. They have voted previously to allay the cuts to defense.
“The bill passed by the House with broad, bipartisan support today requires transparency and accountability from the president on how he will implement those cuts,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. “The bill passed today will provide a clear picture of what Democrats’ inaction will mean for our men and women in uniform, and for all Americans who depend on the freedom and security their countless sacrifices provide.”
Democrats voted for the bill hoping that, as Minority Whip Steny Hoyer put it, the reality of the cuts would be a “wake-up call for Congress to act on comprehensive deficit reduction before the end of this year.”
“The ball is now in Congress’s court to find a solution to deficits that can avert the sequester’s arbitrary, draconian cuts,” the Maryland Democrat said in a statement. “Americans deserve to know what the consequences will be if Congress fails to do its job — and they ought to know who to hold accountable for failing to make the tough decisions necessary to get it done.”
Only two Members voted against the bill: New York Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel and Maurice Hinchey.
Engel said in a statement that he voted “no” because the bill was meant to be nothing more than a political attack on the president.
“This bill is campaign fodder and fails to put us on a path towards making the difficult decisions required to avoid the sequestration cuts and replace them with a balanced approach of cuts and revenue,” he said.
It is unclear whether the bill will become law. A Senate version passed as part of the chamber’s farm bill. That version gave the administration 60 days and included provisions asking for a report on sequestration’s effect on the middle class, infrastructure, the environment and other issues.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.