09/30/2013 11:42 pm ET Updated Oct 01, 2013

Democratic Lawmaker Grumbles About His Party Caving On Sequestration


WASHINGTON -- In the midst of a partisan war over funding the government, one House Democrat fumed Monday night that his party leaders aren't fighting harder to reverse sequestration.

"I hate that part of this," the lawmaker said.

The government-funding bill going back and forth between the House and Senate reflects the automatic spending cuts that took effect in the spring. The sweeping cuts, which Congress agreed to in 2011, were never supposed to go into effect. But lawmakers failed to come up with an alternative deficit reduction plan -- the whole point of putting sequestration on the table in the first place -- and now that Republicans are focused on defunding the Affordable Care Act, the push for replacing the cuts has moved to the back burner.

This House Democrat, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the debate, said he's tried to talk to his leadership about the need to do more to replace sequestration with smarter cuts, but to no avail. Tensions appeared to have escalated over the matter.

"I told [one Democratic leader] to go f*ck himself," he said. "I said, Jesus Christ, we've been waiting on this goddamn thing for months."

The response? "According to leadership, we have to be united," the lawmaker said. "They ask, 'Are you going to be the ones to shut down the government?'"

Sequestration has been wreaking havoc on all kinds of crucial projects and vulnerable populations since it took effect. It's eaten into scientific research, booted low-income families off of Head Start, led to canceled food deliveries to elderly people, and could cost 100,000 federal jobs within the year.

Some Democrats wondered why Republicans haven't been more jubilant about the fact that they've effectively won the fight on sequestration, at least for now. By virtue of nobody taking action to replace it, the across-the-board cuts remain in place and the GOP can tout fiscal responsibility.

"It's baffling to me that the Republicans aren't claiming victory," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told The Huffington Post. "I've talked to a lot of them, privately, and a lot of them say, 'Yeah, this is what we want. We should call it a day.'"

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) said neither party is focused on sequestration because Republicans have turned the fiscal debate into something more dire: risking a government shutdown and potentially a debt default.

"They have bigger things to fry," Honda said, shaking his head. "The game changed when they started to say, 'Oh, let's defund Obamacare.'"

17/10/2013 05:30 BST

Obama Signs Budget Bill

From the White House:

On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2775, the "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014," which provides fiscal year 2014 appropriations for projects and activities of the Federal Government through Wednesday, January 15, 2014. The effective time for the continuing resolution begins on October 1, 2013. H.R. 2775 also extends the Nation's debt limit through February 7, 2014.

Read more here.

17/10/2013 04:58 BST

White House Receives Budget Legislation

17/10/2013 04:13 BST

Frank Lautenberg's Widow Reaps $174,000 In Senate Budget Bill

Hours before Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) won a New Jersey special senatorial election to succeed the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), U.S. senators paid tribute to Lautenberg in their own way.

Rushed to approve a 35-page deal to fund the government and avert a debt default, senators allowed a few unrelated provisions to slip through.

One was section 146, guaranteeing $174,000 -- the equivalent of one year's salary -- to Lautenberg's widow, Bonnie Englebart Lautenberg.

Read more here.

-- Ashley Alman

17/10/2013 03:59 BST

Federal Employees Back To Work Thursday

Director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell released the following statement Wednesday evening:

"Now that the bill has passed the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, the President plans to sign it tonight and employees should expect to return to work in the morning. Employees should be checking the news and OPM's website for further updates."

17/10/2013 03:36 BST

Stenographer Removed For Shouting On House Floor

A shouting stenographer was removed from the House floor as lawmakers voted on a deal to reopen the government and avoid a debt crisis.

The stenographer began shouting as the the House approved the number of votes needed to pass the bill. According to reporters, she was yelling about God and Freemasons:

-- Paige Lavender

17/10/2013 03:27 BST

House Vote: 285-144

The House voted 285-144 to reopen the federal government and raise the debt limit.

Read more here.

17/10/2013 03:18 BST

Republicans Score Amazing Own Goal

HuffPost's Arthur Delaney and Dave Jamieson report:

After voting this year to keep federal employees' pay frozen, Republicans in Congress have accidentally given many government workers their first raise in three years.

It's one of several unintended consequences of the Republican gambit to defund Obamacare by shutting down the government. It isn't a nominal raise, and it won't improve most workers' lives one bit. In fact, so far it's brought mostly misery and anxiety. But here's how it's a one-time raise.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been off the job for two weeks due to the government shutdown. As part of the deal hatched Wednesday to reopen the government, Congress included a measure to pay those workers retroactively for the time they missed, as a matter of fairness, just as it has in the budget impasses of yesteryear. The rationale: federal workers shouldn't have to pay the price for Congress's failures.

But in a symbol of just how wasteful a government shutdown is, lawmakers -- many of whom complain that the federal workforce is bloated, and who haven't granted workers a single cost-of-living adjustment since 2010 -- have forced federal employees to perform two fewer weeks of work for the same salary, all due to congressional squabbling. That's a full pay period, amounting to 3.8 percent of annual wages.

Read more here.

17/10/2013 03:14 BST

House Passes Budget Deal

The House has voted to end the latest damaging battle of divided government in a polarized Congress.

Read more here.

17/10/2013 03:13 BST

House Has The Votes

17/10/2013 03:05 BST

Mitch McConnell Wins The Praises Of... Democratic Leaders

HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery reports:

There was a lot of back-patting among Democratic leaders Wednesday after the Senate passed its bill to end the government shutdown and avert a debt default. But some of their most effusive praise was for the leader of the other party, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who cut a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) at the eleventh hour to avoid catastrophe.

"The Republican leader's cooperation was essential to reach an accord," Reid told reporters, noting his sometimes rocky relationship with the GOP leader. "I've worked with McConnell for many years. The last bit has not been ... [long pause] good."

McConnell "stepped up to be [Reid's] partner when it really counted," said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).

Read more here.



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