Coburn objects to replacing sequester with war savings

Reid tried to call up S. 788, a bill to replace the $85 billion automatic spending cuts known as the sequester with funds the Pentagon has said it has saved from drawing down the U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

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Lawmakers have become more vocal in their complaints about the automatic spending cuts since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it has started furloughing thousands of employees, causing flight delays across the country.

“This is a contrived effort because zero effort has been made by the FAA to have flexibility on how they spend their money,” Coburn said. “I want you to think of the number of people who did not make it to a aunts funeral yesterday because of a contrived situation.”

Coburn argued that there are other programs that could be cut in order to avoid the inconveniences at airports, but that the administration wants people to feel the pain of spending cuts in order to prove a political point.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) argued that flexibility doesn't solve the problem because FAA workers still need to get paid.

"Earth to the Senate: not everyone lives off a trust fund. People need to get paid and flexibility doesn’t do it," Boxer said. "You can’t tell an air traffic control to volunteer on his day off." 

In the Democrats budget, they proposed replacing the sequester cuts with an equal amount of spending cuts and new revenue, but Republicans refused to consider any new taxes.

“If you want to get rid of these [flight] delays I would propose that the solution from the Majority Leader is the best way to go … since the other side won’t consider any revenues,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

Coburn also said that the cost savings in Reid’s plan are an accounting gimmick since the money would still have to be borrowed.

“What we’ve failed to recognize is the risk to our country,” Coburn said of government spending. “We’re the only rose in the bud vase that’s not wilted right now and that’s going to change.”

The sequester was triggered under the August 2011 debt deal — the Budget Control Act — after the 2011 supercommittee failed to come up with $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.