The Senate voted down both the Dem and GOP (feeble) attempts to end the sequester today. For those of you keeping score at home, we name names below.
The GOP had the opportunity to give the President more flexibility on the cuts, so that they wouldn’t be mindlessly across-the-board. But that bill, proposed by James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, didn’t cede Congress’ spending authority to Obama. Obama would have had to preview how he was allocating the cuts, and Congress could have overridden his choices.
The bill lost a vote to break a Dem filibuster, 38 to 62, with nine Republicans opposing it. They were John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey “Butters” Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mike Lee of Utah, and Susan Collins of Maine. Two Dems voted for it — Max Baucus of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia. I would have voted for it.
Then there was the Dem bill that would have cut defense and agriculture and raised taxes on millionaires as a substitute for the sequester (although the CBO scoring showed that it fell $7 billion short). It would have passed 52-48 (51-49 at the end because Majority Leader Reid switched his vote so the bill can come up again), but the GOP filibustered it, so it needed 60 votes. Three Democrats voted against it — Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. I would have voted for that one too.
But although I would have voted for both these bills, I mostly think the sequester is much ado about a measly $44 billion (not $85 billion) in a $16 trillion economy.
Obama and Congress supposedly wanted to threaten cuts that were so apocalyptic they would never be allowed to happen. Obviously, these cuts weren’t it — they’re happening, and they’re not the end of the world.