Congress presses Obama for details on ‘sequester’ spending cuts

Paul Conner Executive Editor
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The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill requiring President Barack Obama to detail how automatic budget cuts scheduled for the beginning of 2013 would be divided.

To date, the Obama administration has not provided specifics about how the “sequester” — required by an agreement reached last year by Congress — would affect defense and domestic spending.

In fact, Republican Rep. Buck McKeon told The Daily Caller that the president’s budget director has told defense contractors not to worry about the sequester because it will not be enacted.

McKeon paraphrased Budget Director Jeffrey Zients’ comments to Lockheed Martin CEO Bob Stevens: “Why would I spend time planning for it when it’s not going to happen? It’s just wasted time.”

With a 414-2 vote, members of Congress from both parties passed a bill that would give the president 30 days to detail how the spending cuts would be distributed.

“The Obama administration has yet to specify how they would implement current law, while refusing to demonstrate leadership in replacing the arbitrary cuts to core priorities,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said in a statement. “Today’s legislation marks a bipartisan call for transparency and action from an administration that appears to have given up on governing.”

“Congress and the American people need a full and complete picture from the president’s Office of Management and Budget on how it will implement these deep reductions called for under the sequestration process,” Ryan said. (RELATED: White House denies sequestration’s ever going to happen)

Republican senators who are pushing the bill in the Senate praised the vote and vowed to push for the Senate to hear debate on the bill. It currently has 33 co-sponsors with South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

“Sequestration threatens our national security and there is bipartisan agreement that it is time for the Obama administration to be transparent about how they plan to implement these looming spending cuts,” Thune wrote in a statement.

The sequester was intended to threaten the congressional “super committee” to reach an agreement on budget cuts, but of course, the super committee failed. The sequester calls for $109.3 billion per year in spending reductions for nine years, but with the super committee failing, Congress forfeited to the White House the ability to direct what programs get cut.

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