Democrats Score Success in Possible Sequestration Relief Bill

Just yesterday a key Democrat Senator was claiming Republicans might force another government shutdown if they did not relent on extending the same sequestration relief in place over the past two years. The Senate GOP favors sequestration relief, but wants it to focus entirely or primarily on the Defense budget. Democrats want to see other domestic programs similarly get relief. However, today the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted a measure from New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen to extend the existing sequestration relief for another two years. As such, the budget increases will be equal across the board for the affected budgets. The committee formally made Shaheen’s proposal a bill. It passed as a bipartisan effort 18-12 with all nay votes coming from Republicans. Only four Republicans on the committee voted for the bill.

Still, the sequestration relief bill represents a breakthrough in a process which neither party wants to see result in a government shutdown, adds NBC analyst Stephen Murray CCMP Capital. Senator Shaheen pointed out that fiscal restraints are important to both parties. That said, she wants to avoid indiscriminate cuts to important agencies from occurring. While both parties are concerned that budget increases get funded, she believes it is best to apply those increases equally to all affected appropriations. Missouri Senator Roy Blunt would have voted for the measure, but he believes the Defense budget deserved a bigger increase. Still, the bill’s fate is uncertain given the relatively poor Republican support it received.