Obama urges sequestration delay
House Speaker John Boehner insists only spending cuts should be considered in any plan to avoid sequestration.
Editor's note: This story was modified after its original publication to correct information about the House vote on the Budget Control Act of 2011.
In remarks to the White House press corps on Feb. 5, President Obama urged Congress to pass short-term measures that would delay the budget cuts that sequestration is scheduled to bring starting March 1.
"These are decisions that will have real and lasting impacts on the strength and pace of our recovery," Obama said. "We've ... seen the effect that political dysfunction can have" on the health of the economy.
"The good news is, this doesn't have to happen," he continued. "I still believe that we can finish the job with a balanced mix of spending cuts and more tax reform."
The president noted that Congress "is already working toward a budget that would permanently replace the sequester," and said legislators should be given the chance to complete those efforts.
In addition to the threat of sequestration cuts, the government's overall funding runs only through March 27, when a continuing resolution expires. But if Congress cannot "act immediately on a bigger package" before March 1, Obama said, "then I believe they should at least pass a smaller package ... that will delay sequestration's effect for a couple of months."
The president did not specify what sort of short-term spending cuts or tax reforms should be made to delay sequestration, saying only that it should be a balanced approach. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), even before the president spoke, dismissed the idea that anything other than spending cuts should be considered.
"President Obama first proposed the sequester and insisted it become law," Boehner said in a statement. "Republicans have twice voted to replace these arbitrary cuts with common sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defense. We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes. The president's sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years."
Despite Boehner's suggestion that Obama bears the responsibility for sequestration, the Budget Control Act of 2011 passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 269-161. Boehner was among the ayes.
Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN. Connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.