Senate demands answers from Obama on impact of $1T cut

The Senate attached a compromise amendment that requires the Obama administration to release a report on the impact of $1 trillion in automatic cuts through sequestration.

The amendment was a modified version of two separate amendments, one by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and one by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The modified amendment passed by voice vote shortly after McCain and Murray reached a deal on combining their respective amendments on Thursday.

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The agreement requires three separate reports on the impact of sequestration from the Obama administration. The Pentagon would be required to explain the impact of the cuts on defense spending by Aug. 15, while the Office of Management and Budget would release a report within 30 days and the president within 60 days explaining the impact of sequestration to both defense and non-defense spending.

Initially, McCain had proposed an amendment only dealing with defense and Murray only with non-defense spending.

The automatic cuts through sequestration are set to take effect in January 2013, and would reduce defense and non-defense discretionary spending by roughly $500 billion each over the next decade. Nearly all Republicans and Democrats want to see the across-the-board, automatic cuts avoided, but they remain deadlocked on a way to find alternative deficit reduction to replace them.

The most vocal opponents of sequestration have pushed for the Obama administration to explain how the cuts would take place, with the idea that spelling out the cuts would raise opposition to them and help push a deal through.

While Democrats and Republicans have not been able yet to make progress on a solving sequestration, Thursday's deal is the first bipartisan step that's been taken on the issue since the supercommittee failed.

A Senate aide said that while the amendment is included on the farm bill, it could also get added to another piece of legislation if that looked to become law sooner, as the House has not passed its farm bill yet.