U.S. Senate Gridlocks On Budget Deal, Automatic Cuts Loom

WASHINGTON (February 28, 2013)--Senate Republicans Thursday killed a plan backed by President Barack Obama to replace $111 billion in government spending cuts this year with a new minimum tax on the wealthy and cuts to defense and farm subsidies that would be slower to strike.

The plan received a 51-49 majority vote but failed in the Senate because 60 votes were required to overcome a GOP-led filibuster.

Republicans objected to $55 billion worth of new taxes and urged an alternative that would have given Mr. Obama greater flexibility to deal with the automatic cuts.

Democrats and tea party Republicans killed the GOPs plan.

The votes came just a day before the automatic cuts are set to start to take place, but there was never any hope that the Democratic measure would have passed because it was crafted without GOP input.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., ,a sponsor of the GOP measure, said it would have allowed Mr. Obama to "distinguish between more sensible government spending and less sensible spending."

The president chided Republicans for blocking the Democratic measure, saying they chose to cut services for children, older people and the military rather than close loopholes for the rich.

Republicans want the middle class alone to pay for deficit reduction, he said.

He said he’ll meet with party leaders Friday “to discuss a path forward.”

“As a nation, we can’t keep lurching from one manufactured crisis to another,” he said in a prepared statement.

“Middle-class families can’t keep paying the price for dysfunction in Washington. We can build on the over $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction we’ve already achieved, but doing so will require Republicans to compromise. That’s how our democracy works, and that’s what the American people deserve,” he said.

The White House said the automatic spending reductions set to kick in Friday will be put off until as close to midnight as possible.

The law that Congress passed on Jan. 2 simply says that "on March 1, 2013, the president shall order a sequestration for fiscal year 2013," which refers to an $85 billion reduction in defense and domestic spending between now and Oct. 1.

Mr. Obama can issue that order at any point in the day.

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