Senate GOP ponders ceding power to President Obama

Mitch McConnell is pictured. | John Shinkle/POLITICOPolitico – by MANU RAJU and DAVID ROGERS

Days before the March 1 deadline, Senate Republicans are circulating a draft bill that would cancel $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts and instead turn over authority to President Barack Obama to achieve the same level of savings under a plan to be filed by March 8.

The five- page document, which has the tacit support of Senate GOP leaders, represents a remarkable shift for the party. Having railed against Senate Democrats for not passing a budget, Republicans are now proposing that Congress surrender an important piece of its Constitutional “power of the purse” for the last seven months of this fiscal year.

As proposed, lawmakers would retain the power to overturn the president’s spending plan by March 22, but only under a resolution of disapproval that would demand two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate to prevail over an Obama veto.

The proposal would require — like the sequester — that no more than $42.6 billion of the cuts come at the expense of defense programs. But the elaborate, almost Rube Goldberg construct is already provoking sharp criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike and reflects a political scramble to escape the fallout from the sequester.

The sweep of the first GOP option is striking. If Congress were to follow this course, significant power would be shifted to the president, an unusual maneuver that even Obama himself and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have scoffed at. But the plan appears to have the backing of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and is being advanced by conservative Republicans who don’t want the White House to continue using the sequester as a public relations hammer.

“Let’s be clear about the goal here,” McConnell said, somewhat defensively on the Senate floor Wednesday

Reid has said he will allow Republicans one shot at offering a sequester solution this week, but the GOP has been divided about a way forward. Even if Republicans unite behind this latest approach, it is unlikely to clear the Senate, ensuring that the sequestration cuts will take effect Friday.

The internal GOP jostling comes as top Democratic senators openly acknowledge they lack the 60 votes to get their plan out of the Senate with their alternative to forestall the cuts for 10 months with alternative savings and new taxes on millionaires. With no resolution in sight by week’s end, Congress’s next best hope to adjust to the sequester’s blow falls to House and Senate appropriators, who must next replace the continuing resolution set to expire March 27.

Asked Tuesday if Democrats expected to get any GOP support to exceed the 60-vote threshold later this week, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) laughed and said bluntly: “No.”

Both parties want to avoid a government shutdown by March 27, but the same replacement bill for the expiring CR could also be used to mitigate the damage of the cuts by adjusting the underlying agency appropriations.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is pressing her caucus to extend government funding with a more detailed package that would make it easier for agencies to cope with the lower funding levels. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) has had some early discussions with Mikulski, but so far he wants to push forward with a narrower plan that would focus most of the relief on the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs.

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8 thoughts on “Senate GOP ponders ceding power to President Obama

  1. This is crazy! They were elected to be the firewall against a runaway government. Now their caving before the fight? At least they could wait and cave after the battle. Are there no true Conservatives left in Washington. It’s time to replace them all!

  2. The traitors in government are blatantly showing themselves. The founding fathers might just be a little upset about this me thinks.Unbelievable!!!!!!!

  3. And where’s the great U.S. military, throwing these assholes out for treason?

    Oh yea, that’s right. They are cowardly showing themselves off at Communist community park picnic activities like here in Round Rock, Texas at Kensington Park, no thanks to the traitors at Fort Hood, rather than doing their jobs and actually protecting our country. It’s good to know that at a time of war and invasion, our soldiers, instead of fighting, go prancing around the community like little girls. The military has truly become a fashion show for the people in this country. Put on a uniform and watch all the ladies flock over you like a boy toy. What a disgrace and an insult to the very uniform and country they are suppose to serve.

    1. Are you sure that they are all ladies flocking over them uniforms like they were their boy toy, NC? Most of these guys that enlist now days never would have if it wasn`t for being bought of by the govt. with low interest loans for schooling, a house, a nice car, ect., and geeze just think about it – these boys will even get a free burial spot when they die, just because they were in the military.

      1. Yea, what a disgrace to our country and our military, Digs. I’m sick of it!

        If I wanted my tax dollars to go to their education, I’d give it to my local communities, NOT to our military that is supposed to fight for us and protect us from enemies both foreign and domestic.

        1. Yea NC I know. It makes me damn sick too. And they -The govt. and the military – seem to be better able to protect all of these other country borders over sea`s at out tax payers expence, and then leave us all hanging here with their crazy laws. Hey NC, wouldn`t it be great fun to have executive orders at our disposal. I “EO” Obama to be the prison shoe shine boy lol.

  4. The republicants need to go the way of the whigs and I feel sorry for anyone who thought they were the “opposition” party.

  5. So if they’re not going to perform their most basic constitutional duty why are we still paying these assholes? We should fire them all and save the $6 billion/yr they cost us in pay and benefits. Then King O would only have to worry about $79 billion.

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