Dem offers plan to avoid sequester

House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is set to propose a way around the 2013 sequester cuts that involves repealing the required cuts, and making up the spending difference with new government revenues, including higher taxes on the wealthy and an end to tax breaks for oil companies.

Van Hollen is expected to propose his plan as a replacement for a Republican bill that would avoid cuts to the Defense Department under the sequester, which is expected to be considered on Thursday.

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The Republican bill from Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), H.R. 5652, seeks to repeal defense cuts under the sequester and move those cuts to programs that West's office says are "lower priority" spending programs. Under the sequester, about $109 billion in cuts to both defense and non-defense programs are required by January.

The Rules Committee is set to meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday to approve a rule for West's bill, and Van Hollen is expected to ask Rules to allow his alternative sequester replacement bill to be considered on the House floor as an amendment.

Under Van Hollen's amendment, the 2013 sequester would be repealed and replaced with new revenue measures that would avoid the need for spending cuts.

Specifically, Van Hollen's proposal would raise $46.7 billion by creating a minimum tax rate for people earning more than $1 million a year. It would also raise $26.5 billion by ending direct payments to farmers, and would raise a total of $38.2 billion by ending tax breaks for oil companies.

Earlier this year, the House approved the Sequester Replacement Act, which would maintain the same level of cuts at $109 billion, but would restructure those cuts to avoid Defense cuts. That bill shifted the spending cuts to mandatory spending programs such as food stamps and other social programs.

That GOP bill would also reduce the deficit by $243 billion.

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