Today, despite the fact that a majority of U.S. Senators voted for a reasonable compromise to stop across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester, Senate Republicans filibustered the bill. The Democratic plan, known as the American Family Economic Protection Act, supported by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), would have replaced $85 billion in cuts through 2013 with a balanced approach of 50% in spending cuts and 50% in revenues. Rather than slashing programs that are critical to job growth, health, and education programs, Democrats sought to target cuts to wasteful farm subsidies and close tax loopholes, among other provisions.
"We need a balanced approach to strengthen our economy and avoid sequestration. It is disappointing that Republicans have rejected compromise, but I will keep working to find a solution. Even though sequestration starts tomorrow, we could still head off the most damaging impacts -- which aren't expected to kick in right away -- if the other side is willing to move," said Reed.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warns that if Congress fails to take action, as many as 750,000 Americans could be laid off this year.
Reed noted that he has supported laws that have already reduced the deficit by $2.4 trillion over the next ten years, with the bulk of that reduction coming through spending cuts, but the sequester's arbitrary cuts could make us less secure at home and abroad.
"If a thoughtful compromise is not reached, some of our most vulnerable citizens -- including seniors and children in Head Start -- could pay the heaviest price. There is a more sensible way to do this. So far, Republicans have been unwilling to take that step. But we will keep working and hopefully we can pass balanced, targeted measures to reduce the deficit and promote job growth," concluded Reed.
Bipartisan congressional leaders are scheduled to attend a meeting tomorrow at the White House with President Obama. Late Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said it is still "not too late" to stop the cuts, but it will require Republicans agreeing with Democrats that a mix of revenues and cuts must be part of the solution.