Boehner: Sequester Will Happen Unless Congress Balances Budget

Matt Cover | February 14, 2013 | 2:38pm EST
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House Speaker John Boehner (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester will go into effect unless Congress balances the federal budget over the next decade.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I told my Republican colleagues at our retreat: The sequester will be in effect until there are cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balance the budget over the next 10 years. Period,” Boehner said at his weekly press briefing.

The sequester is a package of automatic spending cuts – spread between defense and non-defense spending – that will cut about $44 billion in federal spending in 2013 and is estimated to cost about $1 trillion over the next decade if it is allowed to fully go into effect.

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Boehner has said repeatedly that while he thinks the sequester’s across-the-board approach to cuts is bad policy, he is willing to allow it to go into effect unless Senate Democrats and President Obama present a plan to avoid it that cuts spending without raising taxes.

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Obama called the sequester “sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts” that would harm vital government programs.

“These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education and energy and medical research,” he said.

Boehner said Thursday that the only reason the sequester exists is because Obama insisted it be included in a debt ceiling and budget deal the two negotiated in 2011 and if Obama thinks it is such bad policy, he should present a plan to fix it.

“This sequester was the president’s idea. His party needs to follow through on their plans to replace it,” Boehner said. “I’ve made it very clear. The sequester – I don’t like it. Nobody should like it, but the sequester is there, because the president insisted it be there. Where’s the president’s plan to replace the sequester that he insisted upon?”

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