Senate bill requires report from Obama on automatic cuts

The Senate passed a bill requiring President Obama to give Congress a report on the sequestration cuts.

Under unanimous consent, the Senate passed the Sequestration Transparency Act — a bill the House approved last week.

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H.R. 5872 gives the Obama administration 30 days to provide details on how it will deal with a required $109 billion cut to 2013 spending, which was part of last year's debt-ceiling agreement.

Under the sequester, the Office of Management and Budget must by Jan. 2 cut $109 billion from 2013 mandatory and discretionary spending accounts unless Congress provides a different plan.

Republicans have complained that the Obama administration has yet to indicate how it would make these cuts, which were required after the so-called "supercommittee" failed to reach an agreement on deficit reduction.

"This bill is essentially about transparency," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said during debate in the House. "It's not re-litigating the budget fight, it's about making sure that we have as much information as we can to make the right decisions."

Republicans are particularly concerned about cuts to defense spending. That’s why the House bill also would put pressure on the Obama administration and Democrats to redesign the sequester to spare the Defense Department from cuts. 

Senate Democrats have indicated that they are willing use the looming cuts as leverage to pass comprehensive tax reform.

Last week, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said she and other Democrats were willing to use the sequestration cuts as a bargaining chip to get Republican to allow some of the Bush tax rates expire on the top 2 percent of income earners. 

Republicans have labeled that “Thelma and Louise economics,” that would drive the economy over the fiscal cliff.

In the movie's iconic final scene, the title characters drive their car into a canyon.