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After spending weeks insisting that sequestration wouldn't hurt anyone, Senate Republicans were forced today to pass a spending bill that blunts at least some of the sequester cuts. After finally coming to an agreement to move the spending bill for 2013, it passed with a simple majority vote, 73-26.
In fact, the Senate voted on a number of Republican amendments, all from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to play politics with the sequester, like the one that would have shifted maintenance funding for National Parks and Monuments to the Secret Service to resume White House tours. It lost, 45-54.
The chamber did approve one amendment co-sponsored by Democrat Mark Pryor and Republican Roy Blunt to shift Agriculture funding to keep meat inspectors on the job, and another amendment proposed by Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican James Inhofe was approved that will reverse the military services’ plans to cut tuition assistance for service members.
That's in addition to the work done in the underlying bill to restore at least some of the funding cut by the sequester to the WIC food assistance program, to child care subsidies, and to embassy security and construction, among other programs, all of which Republican Richard Shelby, the ranking member on Appropriations, touted in his floor speech introducing the bill. Republicans might still insist that sequestration won't hurt anyone, but their work on this bill says otherwise.
The amendments offered were essentially the same amendments that both sides had agreed to vote on at the beginning of the week. This could have all been done on Monday, but for the futile obstruction of a few Republicans. Only the threat of losing their weekend before a long holiday recess seemed to be enough to break through the logjam.
Now it's back to the House, where, well, we'll see.
My bets, however, are on the House leadership and their desire to work as few days as possible ... and their fear of looking even worse in the public eye by forcing a government shutdown. They aren't likely to ruin a good two-week holiday recess like that.
Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 01:46 PM PDT.