Senate Republicans Consider Handing Purse Strings to President

By:  Michael Tennant
02/28/2013
       
Senate Republicans Consider Handing Purse Strings to President

Some Senate Republicans, backed by their leadership, are proposing a plan to avoid mandated sequestration cuts by letting President Obama decide what to cut.

With budget sequestration looming and no deal to avert it in sight, Senate Republicans, eager to avoid blame for any cuts, have devised a strategy that is as unconstitutional as it is ill-advised: Let the president decide what to cut.

According to Politico, Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), with “the tacit support of Senate GOP leaders,” have been circulating a draft bill that would suspend the $85 billion in spending cuts required by the sequester. Instead, it would give President Barack Obama until March 8 to come up with an alternative that achieves the same level of savings in the same proportions: Fifty percent from domestic discretionary spending and 50 percent from defense spending. Once Obama laid out his plan, Congress could either allow the plan to become law or pass a resolution of disapproval, by simple majority vote of both houses, by March 22.

Congressional disapproval would not, however, be the end of the story. The president could sign the resolution, thereby deep-sixing his own plan in favor of the sequestration. On the other hand, he could veto the resolution, and then the usual two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress would be required to override his veto, restoring the sequestration.

The plan, which Politico aptly describes as an “elaborate, almost Rube Goldberg construct,” is supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said, “The goal isn’t to hand over congressional authority. It’s to make sure these cuts actually happen.”

Of course, if McConnell really wants to ensure that the cuts take place, there is a much simpler way of going about it. All Republicans have to do is not offer a plan of their own and then filibuster any bills the Democrats advance. Voila! The sequester takes effect.

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