Vulnerable Democrats vote against party's sequester replacement

All three face tough reelection fights in red states that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won in 2012. He took Louisiana and Arkansas by substantial, double-digit margins, and Pryor and Landrieu, as well as Hagan, will have a fine line to walk going into their reelection years, as Congress is expected to tackle President Obama's more progressive second-term agenda.

Landrieu said in a statement that she voted against the Democratic bill because it would "disproportionally" affect agriculture.

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"I am strongly in favor of a balanced approach to fix our debt and deficit problems in a way that has the least negative effect on the promising economic recovery underway across the country. However I could not vote for either proposal today — one of which refused to raise any additional revenue and the other that would disproportionally take the cut out of agriculture," she said.

Landrieu added that it wouldn't be "fair to single out [Louisiana farmers and rural communities] in this way," with the Democratic bill.

Hagan echoed Landrieu's concern for agriculture in her statement on the votes, noting that the bill could "potentially harm our state's farmers," but also pressed the need for a long-term solution to the government's spending problems.

"Washington cannot keep operating on short-term, patchwork solutions. That’s not how any company does business, it’s not how families budget their money, and it’s not how we’re going to provide the certainty North Carolinians need," she said.

She also said, in opposition to the Republican version, that "giving the Administration unprecedented authority to pick and choose which programs to cut sends the signal that a responsible plan to reduce our deficit long-term is unattainable, and I'm not willing to give up on bipartisan cooperation in that way."

Pryor, too, noted the potential harm done to agricultural communities by the Democratic bill, and said it was "unacceptable that Republicans would put veterans’ benefits and Social Security on the chopping block, while doing nothing to maintain programs that benefit our economy, jobs, or middle-class families."

"It’s time to make smart, deliberate cuts based on the merit and effectiveness of programs, and work to find common ground," he said in a statement.
The Democratic proposal to avoid sequestration included a $27.5 billion cut to agricultural subsidies and to defense spending for an overall $55 billion cut to spending.

It also raised taxes by $55 billion, with most of those revenues coming from phasing in a 30 percent effective tax rate on incomes between $1 million and $5 million. Adjusted gross incomes above $5 million would have been taxed at a 30 percent effective rate.

The Republican proposal explicitly prohibited tax or fee increases, and instead gave President Obama the ability to decide how to implement the cuts.

If Congress fails to freeze the cuts, a total of $110 billion in spending reductions to domestic discretionary and defense programs will have been implemented in the fiscal year that began last October and ends on Sept. 30.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cuts could cost 750,000 jobs this year.

--This post was updated at 5:43 p.m. to reflect a statement from Sen. Pryor.