The sequester replacement bill proposed by Senate Democrats, and endorsed by the White House, would add $7.2 billion to the federal deficit over ten years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
“CBO estimates that S. 388 would increase direct spending by $62.4 billion and revenues by $55.1 billion over the 2013–2023 period. Thus, the cumulative deficit would increase by $7.2 billion from those changes,” CBO wrote in a report.
The Democratic bill would replace the $85 billion in automatic cuts scheduled to take effect on Friday with a mixture of tax increases and spending cuts to defense programs and farm subsidies. However, those spending cuts would be phased in over a ten-year period, whereas the sequestration cuts would occur this year.
The Senate will vote Thursday on the Democratic plan, as well as a Republican bill that would essentially keep the sequester in place, but give the Obama administration greater flexibility to administer the cuts. Both are expected to fail. Congressional leaders will then meet at the White House on Friday (hours before sequestration officially takes effect) to discuss how to proceed.
President Obama and his Democratic allies have repeatedly pressured Republicans to agree to raise taxes as part of a “balanced” agreement to reduce the deficit. “Republicans in Congress need to do what the American public overwhelmingly wants them to do, which is agree to a balanced approach to further reducing the deficit,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said earlier this week.
Democrats have mastered the “balanced approach” portion of this equation; actually reducing the deficit is something they haven’t quite gotten the hang of. In any event, this should be a fun vote for the half-dozen or so red-state Democrats facing reelection in 2014.
UPDATE: As expected, both bills fell short of the 60 votes required for passage, and the aforementioned red-state Democrats cast some interesting votes.
The GOP plan was defeated 38 to 62, with nine Republicans — Senators Ayotte (N.H.), Collins (Maine), Cruz (Texas), Graham (S.C.), Lee (Utah), McCain (Ariz.), Paul (Ky.), Rubio (Fla.), and Heller (Nev.) — voting no. Democrats Max Baucus (Mont.) and Mark Warner (Va.) voted yes. Both are up for reelection in 2014.
The Democratic bill fell 51 to 49. Three Democrats — Senators Hagan (N.C.), Landrieu (La.), and Pryor (Ark.) — voted against their own party’s plan. They are also facing reelection in 2014. Senate Majority Leader Reid (D., Nev.) voted against the plan as well, but only as procedural tactic that allows him to call another vote on the bill at a later date.