Ryan: Sequester will take effect because Obama failed to act

The $85 billion in automatic spending cuts is scheduled to kick in on March 1 despite opposition in both parties. Republicans have sought to pin the blame for the sequester on the president, saying it was Obama’s idea to include the measure in the 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling, and that he has failed to provide a plan to replace it.

“Don’t forget it’s the president who first proposed the sequester,” Ryan continued. “It’s the president who designed the sequester as it is now designed.”

The sequester had support from members of both parties at the time, as lawmakers viewed it as an inelegant but necessary way out of the contentious 2011 debt-ceiling battle.

Ryan said if the president and Congress can begin passing budgets it would end the 11th hour brinkmanship that has overtaken Capitol Hill since the debt-ceiling battle of 2011.

The House Budget Chairman also argued that his committee has been passing budgets on time, and has passed two bills to prevent the sequester that were not taken up by the Senate.

Ryan’s comments followed President Obama’s Tuesday night State of the Union address, where the president pushed a broad progressive agenda, including gun control, immigration reform, and addressing climate change.

With dozens of victims of gun violence invited to the House chamber, Obama asked Congress to stage votes on proposals to expand background checks on gun purchases, ban assault weapons and prohibit high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Each of these proposals “deserves a vote” in Congress, Obama said repeatedly, to wild applause and standing ovations from his supporters.

One of those in attendance was Oak Creek, Wis., Lieutenant Brian Murphy, who survived a mass shooting last year in Ryan’s home district.

“The other thing that was really nice to see was Brian Murphy, a man I’ve known for a number of years, a police lieutenant from Oak Creek, who was shot 12 times was standing there in the audience in much better health,” Ryan said. “That was wonderful to see a hero like that surviving that kind of brutality.”

Ryan said with the House focused on the sequester, it was up to the Senate to pass a bill on gun control for the House to consider. But he said he was disappointed the president’s proposals didn’t do more to address mental-health issues.

“As a parent I want to tell you we need to fix this if we can, but we need to take a look at these deeper issues,” Ryan said.