Thune on sequester meeting: ‘Where has the president been?’

President Obama announced Wednesday that he would hold a meeting on Friday with congressional leaders to discuss ways to avoid $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that will take effect the same day.

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“Well, March 1 here we are, and in the 11th hour, the last minute the president sweeps in and says he wants to do something about this,” Thune said. “Where is the leadership in that? Why weren’t we doing that 10 months ago … or even last week?”

Votes on Senate sequester-replacements are scheduled for Thursday, but neither the Democratic plan nor GOP plan is expected to pass. Democrats want an equal amount of tax revenue and spending cuts, but Republicans have said they won’t accept any tax increases.

Thune criticized Obama for traveling around the country in recent days highlighting areas where jobs will be lost because of the spending cuts, saying Obama is “better at campaigning than legislating.”

Thune said he doesn’t understand why lawmakers have to wait until the last minute to deal with a crisis that was clearly approaching 18 months ago.