The Senate on Thursday voted to reject all proposals for an alternative deficit-reduction plan that would avoid sequestration, a process that will trim $85 billion in across-the-board spending from the federal budget this year.
Barring a sudden and unexpected outbreak of bipartisan cooperation (LOL) over the next 12 hours, most federal departments on Friday will begin the process of shaving about 2.5 percent from their projected budgets as part of the sequestration order. Over the next decade, if the policy remains in effect, the federal government will spend about $1.2 trillion less than projected, although spending will still increase over that time.
There has been a lot of noise coming from Washington about the consequences of the sequestration plan, which was originally voted into law in 2011 to encourage lawmakers to pass a "grand bargain" replacement that would achieve the same amount of deficit reduction.
The White House on Sunday released an alarming state-by-state breakdown of possible consequences if sequestration occurred. Hawaii Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie warned that Pearl Harbor would be less secure. California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters cautioned that "over 170 million jobs" were at risk. (That would mean negative employment, considering there aren't even that many jobs right now in the U.S.) In all likelihood, sequestration will not be nearly as bad as advertised, something even President Barack Obama suggested on Wednesday night.
In seeking an alternative, lawmakers failed to bridge the divide between the Democrats' demand for more tax increases and the Republicans' insistence that the deficit be narrowed by cutting spending alone. On Thursday—one day before the deadline—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put a Republican bill and a Democratic bill on the floor to avoid sequestration. Both failed. (Even if the Republican version had passed, Obama had already vowed to veto it anyway. If the Democratic bill passed, the House would likely have rejected it.)