Congress passive as spending cuts near - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Congress passive as spending cuts near

Posted: Updated:

Washington (CNN) -- If you're expecting last minute action from Congress to avoid the March 1 spending cut deadline, think again.

Congress isn't even in session this week, and lawmakers and aides from both parties say they don't expect anything to pass anytime soon.

Why the lack of urgency?

The cuts can be phased in over time, and leaders on both sides of the aisle know they can act after March 1 to undo any reductions in the months to come. Also, some Democrats and Republicans aren't totally unhappy with many of the cuts, $85 billion of which will be split between Pentagon and non-defense programs this year.

Many of the most popular domestic programs, including Medicare and Medicaid benefits, are off the table.

With no sharp, irreversible deadline in the offing, all you're likely to get over the next 10 days is an extended version of the partisan blame game. True to form, President Barack Obama and GOP leaders ratcheted up their rhetoric on Tuesday.

"Republicans in Congress face a simple choice," Obama said at a White House event with first responders. "Are they willing to compromise, to protect vital investments in education and healthcare and national security and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations?"

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, urged Republicans to "listen to the overwhelming majority of Americans and work with Democrats to forge a balanced approach" to deficit reduction that includes new tax hikes on the wealthy.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded to barbs from Democrats with a written statement placing the blame squarely on the president.

"The House has twice passed legislation to replace it with commonsense cuts and reforms that won't threaten public safety, national security, or our economy," the speaker said, referring to measures passed by the GOP-controlled chamber last year.

"But once again, the president (has) offered no credible plan that can pass Congress -- only more calls for higher taxes," Boehner said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Obama "prefers campaign events to common sense, bipartisan action."

Republicans argue they've already ceded on higher taxes by allowing Bush-era tax cuts to expire on the wealthiest Americans as part of the New Year's Eve "fiscal cliff" deal.

GOP leaders insist that any package replacing this year's planned $85 billion in cuts -- part of $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years -- must be comprised entirely of alternative spending reductions, including entitlement reform.

Republicans are particularly concerned about the looming defense cuts.

"Even though defense accounts for 17 (or) 18% of our spending, they've taken half of the savings out of the military," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-California, told CNN. "The troops that are over there fighting to protect our freedoms around the world are being cut. The things that they need are being cut."

Senate Democrats and Republicans are expected to propose alternative bills next week to replace the automatic cuts.

Neither plan is likely to get the 60 votes necessary for approval in the 100-member chamber -- thereby setting the stage for more serious talks after March 1.

"There won't be any easy off-ramps on this one," McConnell said last week. "The days of 11th hour negotiations are over."

Brown University political scientist Wendy Schiller, who studies presidential and congressional politics, noted that March 27 -- the date when the current government funding authority expires -- is an ideal point for Congress to alter its current spending plans.

"The upside to the (current package of planned cuts) is that it gives both parties political cover to make a dent in federal spending," Schiller told CNN. "The downside is that the cuts themselves are not directly targeted at inefficiency, fraud or waste, and will ultimately affect voters' daily lives in some way."

Ultimately, she predicted, Congress will be "the big loser. ... If history tells us anything about showdowns between Congress and the president, it tells us the president wins. And only one branch will face the voters again -- Congress."

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Van Zandt suspect teen arrested after shooting mom

    Van Zandt suspect teen arrested after shooting mom

    Saturday, September 13 2014 9:01 PM EDT2014-09-14 01:01:08 GMT
    GRAND SALINE (KYTX) -- A 17-year-old Van Zandt man who reportedly shot his mother then fled behind his residence Friday afternoon is in police custody. Several law enforcements agencies, including the Canton K-9 unit from 13 miles away joined in the chase before Michael Henry Dyar was captured shortly after the shooting near US Highway 80 west of Grand Saline.More >>
    GRAND SALINE (KYTX) -- A 17-year-old Van Zandt man who reportedly shot his mother then fled behind his residence Friday afternoon is in police custody. Several law enforcement agencies, including the Canton K-9 unit from 13 miles away joined in the chase before Michael Henry Dyar was captured shortly after the shooting near US Highway 80 west of Grand Saline.More >>
  • Woman shoots at ex-boyfriend in Palestine post office

    Woman shoots at ex-boyfriend in Palestine post office

    Saturday, September 13 2014 9:27 AM EDT2014-09-13 13:27:25 GMT
    PALESTINE (KYTX) -- A woman scorned fired one shot at an ex-boyfriend at the post office, reportedly fled in a vehicle only to turn herself in to police.The victim was about to depart the post office lobby at at 1213 North Link (State Hwy 155 North) when the former girlfriend fired her weapon. The man was not hit, nor were postal customers or employees injured.More >>
    PALESTINE (KYTX) -- A woman scorned fired one shot at an ex-boyfriend at the post office, reportedly fled in a vehicle only to turn herself in to police.The victim was about to depart the post office lobby at at 1213 North Link (State Hwy 155 North) when the former girlfriend fired her weapon. The man was not hit, nor were postal customers or employees injured.
    More >>
  • Report: Adrian Peterson indicted for negligent injury to a child.

    Report: Adrian Peterson indicted for negligent injury to a child.

    Friday, September 12 2014 9:25 PM EDT2014-09-13 01:25:40 GMT
    (CBS SPORTS) -- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been indicted in Texas for 'reckless or negligent injury to a child,' according to the Fox Affiliate in Houston. The indictment was made in Montgomery County.More >>
    (CBS SPORTS) -- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been indicted in Texas for 'reckless or negligent injury to a child,' according to the Fox Affiliate in Houston. The indictment was made in Montgomery County.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

CBS19, MYTX & KCEB
2211 ESE Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75701
Phone (903) 581-2211
Fax (903) 581-5769

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KYTX. All Rights Reserved. Users of this site agree to the Terms of Service, Privacy Notice/Your California Privacy Rights, and Ad Choices.