Senate Dems Plan to Defang the Sequester

Senate Dems Plan to Defang the Sequester

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Senate Democrats plan to cushion the blow of the $85 billion in sequester cuts that took effect last week by tacking on new appropriations onto the continuing resolution that must be passed this month to continue funding the government.

Too many tweaks could doom the measure to defeat in the Republican majority House that has already passed its own measure.

Senate Appropriations Committee chairwoman Barbara Mikulski had previously been working on 12 appropriations bills but scaled it back to three, which will be added to the CR and include funding for the departments of Commerce, Justice, Agriculture, Homeland Security and science agencies. Funding for Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Military Construction were already included in the House-passed bill.

Mikulski said she fought to add more agencies including Health and Human Services and Education, but was told by Republicans that it would be too controversial. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid has not publically supported the bill yet, and House Republican leadership has yet to weigh in. The bill will be introduced next Monday and brought to a vote Wednesday.   -   Read more at The Hill

OBAMA SETS JULY DEADLINE    The president told his Senate GOP dinner dates on Wednesday evening that a deficit reduction deal needs to happen in the next four to five months (or basically, before the government exhausts its borrowing limit and defaults on its debt.) Sound familiar? This time, like all other times, Obama is hoping for a grand bargain, or a deficit reduction plan that combines spending cuts with more revenue. Reaching an agreement before August might be crucial this time, since it will likely be increasingly difficult for the White House and Republicans to forge a compromise heading into the 2014 mid-term election cycle.  -  Read more at The Hill

WILL THE PRESIDENT ROMANCE THE GOP INTO A GRAND BARGAIN?     It looks like he’s going to try… By treating the GOP to a few meals, “Obama is playing the Washington insider’s game in hopes of drafting a master plan of spending cuts, entitlement reforms, and additional tax increases.” The Fiscal Times Josh Boak and Eric Pianin write. “With those simple gestures, Obama has reaped some remarkable good will on Capitol Hill and rekindled hope that a “grand bargain” for stabilizing the national debt—$16.5 trillion and growing—may still be in reach.”   -   Read more at The Fiscal Times

ECONOMY ADDS 236,000 JOBS-UNEMPLOYMENT DOWN TO 7.7 PERCENT    The Friday’s jobs report signals that the economy is on the right track for a full recovery, according to Capital Economics.  “February's Employment Report isn't a game changer, but it adds to the evidence… that, despite the expiry of the payroll tax cut, higher gasoline prices and government spending cuts, the recovery is gathering momentum.”   -  Read more at The Fiscal Times

INVESTORS COLLECT RECORD DIVIDENDS    Huge payout . According to the S&P Dow Jones Indices, U.S. companies are expected to pay a record-breaking $300 billion in dividends in 2013, blasting past last year’s $282 billion, helping boost the stock market’s rally. Corporations are also planning to buy back $117.8 billion of their own shares this month, the highest monthly total since 1985.      Read more at The Wall Street Journal


Brianna Ehley is the former Washington Correspondent for The Fiscal Times. She is currently a reporter on Politico's health care team in Washington, D.C.