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Mitch McConnell offers Obama flexibility on sequestration, but Obama rejects it

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants to give President Obama the flexibility to implement sequestration in a targeted way as opposed to the “meat cleaver” approach currently mandated, but Obama doesn’t want the responsibility.

McConnell discussed a proposal that The Washington Examiner first reported last week. “Some have raised concerns about a proposal that would give agency heads more discretion in prioritizing these cuts,” he said on the Senate floor this morning. “And I understand those concerns. But let’s be clear about the goal here: the goal isn’t to hand over congressional authority — it’s to make sure these cuts actually happen, and that we don’t cut a penny less than we promised.”

A Senate aide suggested to The Examiner last week that Obama would have an incentive to implement the cuts responsibly because Republicans would otherwise “pin any wasteful defense spending program on him.”

Obama attacked the proposal yesterday. “You don’t want to have to choose between, let’s see, do I close funding for the disabled kid, or the poor kid?” the president said in Newport News, Va., yesterday.  “Do I close this Navy shipyard or some other one?  When you’re doing things in a way that’s not smart, you can’t gloss over the pain and the impact it’s going to have on the economy.”

House Republicans are wary of the Senate proposal. “We don’t want to cede any type of authority to the administration in terms of how the sequester is applied,” one GOP aide familiar with the internal debate about the idea said last week. “The authority to re-work the cuts on the defense side — that’s something that’s going to stick with the appropriations committee.”

 

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