POLITICS

Obama, GOP to meet on sequester after it starts

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio

Editor's note: An updated version of this story can be found here

 

President Obama will meet with top House and Senate leaders at the White House Friday to discuss a deal that supposedly would avoid the so-called sequester cuts - hours after the $1.2 trillion sequester actually takes effect.

The meeting was announced Wednesday morning, in the middle of a stalemate over just how to offset the cuts, which are arbitrary and could damage the economy and weaken the military.

Obama and Democrats want to include tax increases with cuts. Republicans said they won't approve any new tax revenue. Democrats won their tax increase, say GOP lawmakers, when the president signed a law in January raising rates on those earning more than $400,000.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made it clear in a statement Wednesday that Republicans plan to hold their ground in this fight and will not agree to a tax increase.

"The meeting Friday is an opportunity for us to visit with the president about how we can all keep our commitment to reduce Washington spending," McConnell said. "With a $16.6 trillion national debt, and a promise to the American people to address it, one thing is perfectly clear - we will cut Washington spending. We can either secure those reductions more intelligently, or we can do it the president's way with across-the board cuts. But one thing Americans simply will not accept is another tax increase to replace spending reductions we already agreed to."

Democrats plan to put a bill on the Senate floor Thursday that would offset the $85 billion in indiscriminate cuts set to take effect and replace them with a combination of targeted cuts and new taxes. It's unlikely to pass, though, because Democrats control just 55 votes and need 60 to approve the measure.

Friday's meeting won't be the first time Obama meets with lawmakers this week. Congress is hosting the president at the Capitol Wednesday for the unveiling of a statue of civil rights leader Rosa Parks.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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