White House Issues Milquetoast Veto Threat of GOP Sequestration Fix

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 28 2013 12:35 PM

White House Issues Milquetoast Veto Threat of GOP Sequestration Fix

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"My veto pen, please?"

Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. James Inhofe and Sen. Pat Toomey have proposed a bill we can generally refer to as a "Republican sequestration fix." The authors would allow the administration (and agencies) to re-order the cuts forced upon them by sequestration. If this passed, defense cuts for this year would stay at $42 billion of $85 billion total.

The White House would accept this, right? Ha! After staying mum about the proposal for days, the administration has issued a somewhat mild veto threat, two paragraphs and a sentence, consisting largely of boilerplate. "Rather than proposing a comprehensive solution to avoid the cuts and their harmful impacts to the economy," reads the explanation, "this bill would cancel $85.3 billion in budgetary resources in FY 2013 and purportedly provide the President with flexibility in executing the reductions. While no amount of flexibility can avoid the fact that middle class families will bear the brunt of the cuts required by this bill, nothing is asked of the wealthiest Americans." In short: Knock it off and send us some loophole-closers and the Buffet rule.

The key threat:

If the President were presented with S. 16, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
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That's not a promise to rain down thunder. That's an assumption that this bill will be strangled in the crib. Add to this that Republicans are filibustering the Democrats' sequestration fix, and you've got a big pile of fail waiting inside the Capitol when votes come at 2:30. Republicans can now say that 1) they offered to give Obama the authority to move money around and avoid disastrous cuts and 2) the Democratic Senate still hasn't passed a sequestration fix.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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