GOP plan to nix sequester moves forward
A House panel has passed a duo of bills that would avoid the automatic cuts triggered by the so-called super committee's failure last year to identify $1.2 trillion in budget-reduction measures.
The House Budget Committee voted May 7 to approve the Sequester Replacement Act in an effort to halt the across-the-board cuts set to kick in January 2013. Also passed was the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, which aims to slash mandatory spending by $324 billion on top of the $1.2 trillion required by the Budget Control Act.
The sequester “is bad policy, would devastate our military, and should be replaced with more sensible savings,” Paul Ryan (R-Wisc), chairman of the committee, said in a statement following the passage of the GOP-introduced acts.
His statement echoed previous warnings from Defense Department officials such as Secretary Leon Panetta and Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who have cautioned of the ramifications of a sequester.
The GOP proposals aim to replace the across-the-board cuts with “reductions in lower-priority spending while laying the groundwork for further efforts to avert the spending-driven economic crisis before us,” Ryan said. More specifically, the legislation would introduce more targeted cuts to health care, federal employee pensions and social services, among other areas.
However, the proposals could well meet the same fate as the attempted bipartisn negotiations that failed and led to the imposition of the sequester in the first place. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member of the committee, called the Republican-backed package “flawed,” saying it “continues the lopsided approach of the full Republican budget.” He criticized the proposed elimination of the Social Services Block Grant program, which he said helps 23 million children and adults receive essential services, and other cuts to health care coverage for children, seniors and other needy Americans.
“We do think that’s a better approach, by far, than the meat-ax approach that the sequester would impose,” he said in remarks delivered at the committee’s markup of the two act. “But we need to come together and develop that kind of balanced approach to getting it done."
Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.