Dozens of members of Congress have argued that the $85 billion sequester is the wrong way to cut government spending, but the two parties have failed to come up with any alternative. Democrats have called for a deal to replace some of the cuts with new taxes, but Republicans have refused to consider tax hikes.


Complicating the issue for both parties is that the sequester does not apply to congressional salaries. The Office of Management and Budget has said congressional salaries are exempt, which has prompted some members, including Bera, to propose legislation applying the sequester to congressional salaries.

That has also led to discussion about how quickly Congress could apply the sequester to itself. The 27th Amendment to the Constitution prevents Congress from immediately altering its pay — any changes approved by Congress can only take effect in the next Congress.

Rep. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowRepublican wins Georgia secretary of state runoff to replace Kemp The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of Our democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget MORE (D-Ga.) has proposed a new amendment to the Constitution that would continue to prevent Congress from immediately increasing its pay, but would allow Congress to immediately cut its pay.

The sequester became law in 2011, as a possible option to cut spending across the board if the two parties could not work out a deal on spending cuts. When the bipartisan effort failed, the sequester was due to take place in early January. The bulk of the cuts were delayed until March, and then took effect.