Sen. Mikulski to ignore sequester

The Senate Appropriations Committee will write fiscal 2014 bills according to the top-line discretionary spending level in the Senate and White House budgets, ignoring the sequester cuts in current law.

By crafting bills at the $1.058 trillion level set by the Obama and Senate budgets, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is setting the stage for a showdown with the House, which intends to use the $966 billion level set by sequestration.

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If the House and Senate cannot agree on appropriations bills by Oct. 1, part or all of the federal government could shut down.

Last year, the Senate also chose to ignore automatic cuts to the 2013 budget in the hopes that congressional leaders and the White House would find a way to turn off the sequester. When that didn't happen, a continuing resolution at the sequester level was forged to avoid a March 28 government shutdown.

"The Senate Budget Committee has given me a number and it is my intention to follow that," Mukluks told The Hill this week when asked about how the bills will proceed. 

In a statement on President Obama's 2014 budget Wednesday she elaborated. 

“I support the top-line funding level of $1.058 trillion, which is consistent with the bipartisan American Taxpayer Relief Act that passed the Senate just three months ago by an overwhelming vote of 89-8. We should stick to that deal and find a balanced solution to eliminate sequester. Sequester is a terrible policy that was never intended to happen," she said.

“As Chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, I will work across the aisle, across the dome, and across town with the White House to move bipartisan appropriations bills that make smart public investments to advance our national interest with a sense of frugality that is required in these challenging economic times," she said.

Miklulski said that on entitlement spending — an issue outside the purview of her committee — she has issues with Obama's cuts to benefits. 

“I do agree with the president that we need a balanced approach to end sequester. However, there are specifics in the president’s plan around earned benefits about which I have serious concerns," she said. 

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that Obama's budget was "overstuffed" with new spending and should be rejected.