Sequester Wins

In case anyone out there thought there was a chance Congress would delay or replace the appropriations sequester before it goes into effect tomorrow: sorry, no such luck. The Senate Democratic plan was filibustered to death by Republicans; a motion to bring it up could only command 52 votes, 8 short of the chamber’s de facto 60-vote requirement absent real filibuster reform. The three votes Democrats lost–Hagan, Landrieu and Pryor–are all up for re-election next year, but I’m guessing their opposition had as much do to with cuts in ag subsidies as the bill’s revenue measures, which Republicans are going to try to spin as toxic to red-state voters.

The Republican “replacement” bill which was allegedly aimed at giving the Obama administration more flexibility to implement the sequester did not fare as well, losing 38-62 as nine GOPers voted against it (2 Democrats, Baucus and Warner, voted for it).

So the sequester is happening, and unless there’s some big and immediate buyer’s remorse, the action–or inaction–will now shift to the upcoming expiration on March 27 of a continuing appropriations resolution for the rest of the fiscal year, which could either confirm or reverse (in whole or in part) the spending levels set by the sequester.

In the meantime, of course, we’ll get to witness the spin battle over the impact of the sequester, with Republicans torn between whining about defense cuts and claiming it’s all a nothing-burger that proves we still need some real spending reductions (on the domestic side of the ledger, of course).

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.