Democrats set to unveil their own sequester replacement plan

House Democrats on Wednesday will unveil their own bill to turn off and replace next year’s automatic, across-the-board spending cuts triggered by the failure of last year’s debt supercommittee.

The amendment will be unveiled as the House Rules Committee takes up a Republican bill that would turn off $72 billion of the $109 billion in automatic cuts and replace them with up to $242 billion in net cuts over 10 years.

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The GOP replacement, drawn up by six committees pursuant to instruction in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget, contains no cuts to defense and no tax increases, and instead targets social programs. The sequester as originally drawn would have hit the Pentagon hard.

The measure heads to the floor this week.

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Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Budget Committee, said his alternative will have spending cuts as well as tax increases and will turn off the entire $109 billion sequester, including cuts to Medicare. Like the GOP, Democrats dissolve the cuts for the military.

“We all agree that the meat-ax approach in the Budget Control Act’s sequester would be bad for the country. But the Republican plan to replace it protects tax breaks for millionaires and corporations, while putting children and struggling families on the chopping block,” he said in a statement.

Van Hollen said the Democrats will cut direct payments to farmers, reform the National Flood Insurance Program, impose a "Buffett Rule" so millionaires pay higher taxes, and cut oil-and-gas subsidies.

A preliminary summary says $24 billion is saved by slashing farm subsidies, $5 billion is saved from NFIP reform, $46 billion is raised from the Buffet Rule and $38 billion comes from closing tax loopholes just for the five biggest oil-and-gas companies.

Republicans had accused Democrats of shirking their responsibility in failing to provide a one-year sequester elimination alternative to their bill.

Neither the GOP bill, set for passage in the House, nor the Democratic amendment stand a chance of becoming law any time soon. Rather both can be seen as markers for lame-duck negotiations on the automatic spending cuts and scheduled expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts.