Following the U.S. Senate's failure to pass either the Democratic or Republican proposals to avert the arbitrary, automatic, indiscriminate budget cuts, commonly called sequestration, Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced that they will introduce a plan to allow the federal government to propose more targeted cuts while also allowing for appropriate congressional oversight.
The bipartisan legislation would allow individual federal departments and agencies to propose how they each would more strategically implement the otherwise-thoughtless, automatic cuts. The bill would require that the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives appropriations committees work with the administration to provide oversight and ultimately approve the spending plans.
"Blunt, shortsighted budget cuts are not the responsible way to reduce the deficit," Udall said. "This bipartisan plan ensures that the White House and Congress would work together to replace arbitrary cuts with smarter, focused spending reductions. Although I would have preferred that Congress had passed a comprehensive and balanced deficit-reduction plan to replace the sequester, the Udall-Collins plan is the only immediate way to temper the effects the sequester will have on our economy and national security."
"Rather than dueling partisan plans that everyone knows have no chance of passing, our bipartisan plan would help mitigate the harmful effects of sequestration by allowing agency heads more flexibility to set priorities in reducing their budgets," Collins said. "While I continue to talk with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and with the White House, on how we could produce a sound, long-term fiscal plan to replace the indiscriminate cuts of sequestration, I believe our plan shows that it is possible to work together on a responsible, thoughtful plan to reduce our deficit, protect the jobs of hard-working Americans, and avoid mindless, meat-ax spending cuts."
The Udall-Collins bill does the following:
It empowers the executive branch to work with Congress and propose the best way to administer what would otherwise be automatic, arbitrary budget cuts required under the Budget Control Act;
The Administration's spending proposal for a given department would be given to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees for review and approval, providing appropriate Congressional oversight and input.
Finally, the legislation provides authorities for the Department of Defense to start new projects and programs that have been approved, but have been on hold due to the inability of Congress to adopt a full-year defense appropriations bill.