Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has once again succumbed to pressure from the GOP, putting his sequester payment plan on the back burner yesterday after an opposition by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). Reid’s proposed bill would have paid down the sequester for the next five months by dipping into a portion of the United States’ war savings, a reported $81 billion that was saved from Obama’s withdrawal of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reid’s bill comes as a reaction to the sequester cuts, which became effective March 1st, as public concern rises over the sequester causing airport delays due to air traffic controller furloughs.
During his time on the Senate floor yesterday, Reid asked the GOP to consider his solution to the sequester. “So I think we should do something about sequestration. It’s important we do. We should do what was in one of the Ryan budgets; that is, use the overseas contingency fund to delay the implementation of sequestration. We could do it for five months. During this five-month period, we could come up with something that was longer term,” Reid said. “We can stop the flight delays and the pink slips. We can stop the devastating cuts to programs that protect low-income children, home-bound seniors, and homeless veterans. And we can stop the cuts to crucial medical research. But Democrats can’t do it without Republicans’ help.”
The GOP, however, was quick to object. “We need a long term solution that will fix these damaging sequestration cuts and provide more stability in the budgets for critical federal programs. Continual, temporary band aids and political posturing such as this simply compound the real problem, and bring us no closer to finding meaningful solutions,” said Jennifer Hing, committee spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY).
Nevertheless, Reid couldn’t take the heat from the GOP backlash and he sidelined his sequester replacement bill, which has the opportunity to be brought up in the Senate again. While Reid’s bill seems like a practical way to replace sequester cuts, it’s only a temporary solution to the problem as it only covers the first of nine years of automatic cuts to the budget attempting to reduce the country’s $1.2 trillion deficit.
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow her on Twitter @KrystaLoera