Morning Examiner: House GOP spending bill would checkmate Dems on sequester

Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

If House Republicans can pass the government funding bill, aka Continuing Resolution (CR), introduced by Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rodgers, R-Ky., yesterday, they will have positioned themselves well for a surprise victory over President Obama in the latest government spending showdown.

The CR, which is scheduled to be voted on Thursday, would spend $982 billion trough September, thus honoring the sequestration agreement Republicans struck with Obama in 2011. However, the CR also changes current law to make sequestration less harmful to the nation’s national and border security. For example, billions are taken from Pentagon equipment procurement and research and development and moved into current Defense Department operations and maintenance. A pay raise for federal employees that Obama had ordered to begin in April is rescinded while more money is given to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. You can read a full list of protected defense and border priorities here.

House leadership aides stressed that the CR does not give Obama any extra authority on how to administer the sequestration cuts. Instead, it specifically directs Obama on how to implement existing sequester cuts more wisely. This makes Democrats unhappy.

House Appropriations Committee ranking member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., told Talking Points Memo, “Although the proposal includes FY2013 Appropriations bills for Defense and Military Construction-VA — which enjoy broad bipartisan support — it is extremely disappointing that the proposal would fund the remainder of the federal government’s critical services and investments for the American people under FY2012 plans and spending levels, enacted 15-18 months ago.” In other words, Lowey and Senate Democrats want to re-prioritize the domestic spending cuts the same way Republicans did for security spending. Problem is, it is unclear if they have a coherent plan or the votes to do so.

From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: States can stop drone abuse before it occurs
Lawrence Kudlow: Sequestration is good for the economy
Byron York: In second term, Obama is all politics, all the time
Phil Klein: Obama’s sequestration strategy carries political risks
Tim Carney: Instead of living in his district, lawmaker lives rent-free in a lobbyist’s house
Michael Barone: Are we stuck in a “new normal” economy?

In Other News
The Wall Street Journal, Airports See Few Problems: Major airports reported smooth operations Monday after the Obama administration called attention to delays at two big airports over the weekend, adding to other early indications that the impact on air travel from forced government spending cuts may be less abrupt and in some ways less dramatic than many feared.
The Wall Street Journal, Duncan Says He Misspoke When Describing Pink Slips for Teachers: Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday he chose the wrong words last week when he said teachers were already receiving “pink slips”—layoff notices—due to the spending cuts mandated by the sequester.
The Wall Street Journal, Fannie, Freddie to Create Joint Firm: The regulator overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced Monday one of the most concrete efforts to date for building a new infrastructure that could ultimately replace the government-controlled mortgage companies.
Reuters, Florida Medicaid expansion suffers legislative setback: Florida Governor Rick Scott’s plan to expand Medicaid coverage to cover about 1 million more poor people suffered a setback on Monday when the proposal failed to make it out of a key state legislative committee hearing.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas House rejects Medicaid: Republicans in the Texas House voted Monday against expanding Medicaid in its current form, but left open the door to negotiations with the federal government.

Lefty Playbook
Paul Krugman thinks he lost his debate with Joe Scarborough about the need for deficit reduction.
Derek Thompson says corporate profits are eating the economy.
Timothy Noah says Democrats should move left if they want to win the sequester fight.

Righty Playbook
Michael Boskin says Larger Spending Cuts Would Help the Economy.
Joel Kotkin on The Age of Bernanke.
Shawn Steel and K. E. Grubbs Jr on California as Paradise Lost.

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