As Congress began its Presidents Day recess, lawmakers had yet to act to undo or delay $85 billion in mandatory spending cuts slated to take effect on March 1.
Senate Democrats on Feb. 14 unveiled a $110-billion package of tax hikes and other spending reductions to hold off the budget "sequester" for 10 months. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed the tax hikes in the plan as "a total waste of time." The cuts were to begin on Jan. 2, but a two-month delay was enacted on that same day.
Office of Management and Budget Controller Daniel Werfel told a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Feb. 14 that the scheduled reductions would total $85 billion for the rest of fiscal 2013. Werfel said the plan would mean effective cuts of about 9% for individual non-defense accounts and 13% for defense line items.
The sequester would slice more than $4 billion from construction programs, says the Associated General Contractors. Some programs would be exempt.