Local lawmakers respond to automatic spending cuts deadline

By: NewsCenter 16 Staff, The Associated Press Email
By: NewsCenter 16 Staff, The Associated Press Email

President Barack Obama is chiding Senate Republicans for blocking a Democratic plan to replace automatic spending cuts that are set to kick in Friday.

Senate Republicans objected to $55 billion worth of new taxes in the Democratic plan. It would have replaced the cuts with tax increases on millionaires and spending reductions over 10 years.

Obama says Republicans chose to cut services for kids, older people and the military rather than close loopholes for the rich. He says Republicans want the middle class alone to pay for deficit reduction.

Republicans floated their own plan to give Obama more flexibility to find $85 billion in spending cuts this year. Democrats and tea party Republicans killed that plan Thursday.

Obama and congressional leaders are to meet Friday to discuss potential ways ahead.

"We've done our work. They've not done theirs. The House shouldn't have to pass a third bill to replace the sequester before the Senate passes one," said House Speaker John Boehner.

The cuts do not go into effect until the president signs the sequester order, which must happen before 11:59 pm Eastern time. White house aides say the president won't sign it until after his meetings with House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the White House. They say he will likely wait until as close to midnight as possible.

Michigan's sixth district congressman, Republican Rep. Fred Upton, and Indiana's second district congresswoman, Reublican Rep. Jackie Walorski, joined us on 16 Morning News Friday to discuss the issue.

“I would have preferred that we actually make the tough choices, to look at these different programs, but at the end of the day, we have an across the board, in essence 3 to 4 percent, cut on all federal spending,” Upton said.

When asked about concerned constituents, Upton said this won't be a case of Chicken Little.

“I mean we’re not going to see the sky falling down I don’t think. We’ve got to make reasonable choices. We’re going to pass a bill this next week to allow the Pentagon and other agencies the better ability to actually re-program the dollars to make some choices within their overall budgets. We’ve done that and as I’ve said Congress is not exempt either and so I’ve told members in my committee guess what, start bringing your iPad, we’re not going to be doing the printing expenses…we’re not filling some of our senior staff level positions, we’re not going to do field hearings,” Upton said.

Walorski, meantime, said she faults the president for not taking action.

"This is why it’s frustrating. The House has produced so many solutions to this that the president refuses to look at. The president hasn’t even been in town,” Walorski said. “The issue is not the cutting of the $85 billion. We have $16 trillion of debt. The issue is, it’s bad policy, it is across the board. So I’m sure, I have no doubt, that we’re going to continue to pound out options to give to the president that takes a scalpel to the issue, to these waste and fraud areas, and not a hacksaw which is what they’re doing today,” Walorski said.

To see what Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly had to say about the cuts and how they would affect the Michiana area, click on this link.

Upton says lawmakers will be back in Washington on Monday.

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