Photo Credit: John Shinkle 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.
Congress 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.
Indeed, a rival Republican proposal to instead come up with alternative cuts and not cede power to the president was already circulating Tuesday night, a 31 page draft bill crafted by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)
The sweep of the first GOP option, which has leadership support, 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 is being advanced by some conservative Republicans who don’t want the White House to continue using the sequester as a public relations hammer.
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