Reid Proposes Temporary Sequestration Suspension

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has introduced legislation to end sequestration and restore normal funding levels for the remainder of fiscal 2013.

The bill (S. 788) would use savings from “winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to prevent cuts that will harm our national security and our economy,” Reid said when introducing the bill Tuesday on the Senate floor.

Reid said while many have focused on airport delays caused by employee furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration, there are more significant reasons to reverse the planned automatic budget cuts.

“Nationwide these across-the-board cuts will cost 750,000 jobs,” Reid said. “They will cost us investments in education that keep America competitive. They will cost millions of seniors, children, veterans and needy families the safety net that keeps them from descending into poverty.”

Reid’s bill would not end the entire sequestration program -- scheduled to take place over the next 10 years -- but delay its implementation through September. Postponing the cuts would allow Democrats and Republicans to negotiate a permanent solution, Reid said.

“We can do it for five months, and during those five months we can come up with something that is longer term,” the majority leader told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

Reid’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the impact this bill would have on scheduled furloughs across most agencies in federal government, though agency heads have repeatedly pleaded with Congress to repeal sequestration so employees would not be forced to take unpaid leave.

The Democratic leader said the idea to use savings from post-war drawdowns -- which Republicans have called a “gimmick” -- was included in one of Rep. Paul Ryan’s, D-Wisc., budget proposals. In a comment to Politico, Ryan’s office denied the claim. 

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