Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear on Thursday that “the days of 11th hour negotiations are over” with Democrats over legislation to avert the huge tax cuts set for March 1 through sequestration.
“For nearly two months, I’ve been coming to the floor to ask Senate Democrats to work with us on a bill that could pass both houses of Congress,” the Kentucky Republican said. “If they were the least bit serious about a solution, they’ve had more than a year to write a bill in committee, bring it to the floor, vote on amendments, get it to the House, and fix this.
“Instead, they waited right up until the moment of crisis, just like they always do, and then got together — not with a goal of finding a solution, but to hatch an escape plan aimed at making Republicans look like the bad guys,” he added. “Their whole goal here isn’t to solve the problem; it’s to have a show-vote that’s designed to fail, call it a day, and wait for someone else to pick up the pieces.
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“My message this morning is simple: There won’t be any easy off-ramps on this one.”
More than $1.2 trillion in broad spending cuts over 10 years are expected to begin March 1 under sequestration. The reductions are expected to hit the nation’s armed forces the hardest — and even outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that the cuts are a serious threat to the nation’s military readiness.
The sequestration cuts were delayed two months in the fiscal-cliff plan Congress passed in January. That deal also came via last-minute negotiations.
“Washington Democrats may have gotten used to Republicans bailing them of their own lack of responsibility. But those days have passed,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday. “Look: they run the Senate. They run the White House. It’s time they started acting like it.”
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