Sequestration Bills Try to Clarify What Would Happen If We Fell Off the Fiscal Cliff

Today, Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) introduced the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (S. 3228), which would require "the President to provide a report detailing the sequester required by the Budget Control Act of 2011 on January 2, 2013."

Similar legislation was introduced as part of a Senate Armed Services Authorization bill, and earlier today Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced an amendment to a Senate farm bill that would require the Department of Defense to provide information on how $500 billion worth of cuts as part of the sequestration would affect the military. The difference, though, is that the legislation by Thune and Sessions applies to the entire government, including defense and non-defense spending.

The amendment that Sen. McCain and the Republicans are offering passed the Armed Services panel unanimously when the bill was marked up last month. Sen. McCain said the amendment is necessary because “Congress needs an official, detailed assessment from the department on the serious damage to military readiness and the increased risk to our military operations in Afghanistan which would result if sequestration is allowed to occur.”

Neither bill stops sequestration —Sen. McCain has a bill to delay it for one year by cutting federal workers, but that has not attracted any Democratic support — but it would give Defense hawks in Congress more ammo to argue for a change to the automatic cuts.

Of course, Sen. McCain might be better off sticking with his original legislative horse. The Defense authorization bill has passed for 50 straight years, while the farm bill could run into problems between the House and Senate.


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