As the clock ticks down to the hundred-day mark before gouging defense and domestic spending cuts are due to take effect, House Republicans are offering the White House a deal: show us your plan to stop sequestration.
A resolution introduced by Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) and passed by the house with a 223-196 partisan margin Thursday evening requires President Barack Obama to submit his own plan to replace the reckless across-the-board cuts in the sequester with more balanced cuts. The bill would also replace money due to be leached from the Defense Department and assess cuts to discretionary spending.
In his legislation, West noted that the sequester, as written, would not only decimate military strength, it would also slash into domestic programs such as Head Start, the National Institutes of Health, and U.S. border patrol.
Republicans have already passed two sequester alternatives: a bill that would achieve the necessary budget cuts through lessening of the federal work force by attrition, and a replacement authored by Wisconsin congressman and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan that would assess the cuts in entitlement spending instead.
â??Mr. President, youâ??re the commander in chief. Come up with a plan,â?ť West said on the House floor. â??If you donâ??t like what we did in the House, then do something. Come up with a plan.â?ť
House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen denounced Republican efforts as a â??charadeâ?ť and said the lack of agreement on stopping sequestration was due to their unwillingness to raise taxes.
â??There are lots of alternatives that have been put on the table. They just donâ??t like the alternatives,â?ť he said.
Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) disputed that claim, saying that Democrats had yet to pass actual legislation to end the sequester.
â??All they have to do is pass another bill, get it to conference, and then weâ??ll work out the differences,â?ť he said. â??A plan is nothing. What they have to do is pass a bill.â?ť
McKeon also noted the impractical way the sequester was designed to find budget savings.
â??Mowing the lawn at Fort Dix will have the same priority as ammunition for the troops in Afghanistan,â?ť he said.
In spite of its support, this bill appears headed to the same fate as the other two Republican plans.
On Wednesday, the White House issued a veto threat, saying the bill did not represent shared responsibility.