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Washington Briefing
   March 1, 2013
Sequester Deadline Day

After months of political wrangling, today is the day the $85 billion, across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester will go into effect at 11:59 p.m.  The Senate on Thursday failed to pass two last-minute efforts to forestall the cuts.

The first measure, put forward by the Senate Republican leadership, would have given President Barack Obama broad discretion to implement the $85 billion in spending cuts over the remainder of the fiscal year. It needed 60 votes to move forward, and it failed by a vote of 38-62.

The second measure, put forward by Democrats, also failed to overcome the 60 vote threshold and failed by a vote of 51-49. The bill would have replaced the across-the-board spending cuts with a mixture of other cuts and tax increases.

The president has spent the week highlighting what the cuts will mean - from cutting funds to our nation's first responders to causing longer lines at the airport due to loss of funding for the Transportation Security Administration.

On Sunday, the White House released a state-by-state breakdown of the sequester's effects. According to the numbers released by the White House, approximately 27,000 civilian Department of Defense employees in Alabama would be furloughed and around 2,110 fewer children would receive vaccines for diseases due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $1444,000. Alabama would also lose about $472,000 in funding for job search assistance and training resulting in 16,600 fewer people able to get the skills and assistance they need to find employment.

To read the full report, click here. To read the sequester's impact on Alabama, click here.

The president and vice president invited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to the White House this morning to work on avoiding the sequester. Today's meeting marks the president's first fact-to-face meeting with congressional leaders to discuss the sequester cuts; however, the meeting lasted only about an hour later with no sign of a breakthrough.

Senate Confirms Hagel, Lew Nominations

The Senate barely closed the roll call on the confirmation of the new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel when it turned to consider another presidential cabinet confirmation, Jack Lew, who had served as the White House chief of staff.

The Senate voted 71-26 on Wednesday to confirm Lew as the country's 76th Treasury secretary. He succeeds Timothy Geithner. No Democrats voted against his nomination, and 20 Republicans voted in favor of confirmation.

Hagel was sworn in Wednesday, just one day after the Senate confirmed him 58-41. Four Republicans voted to confirm him. Hagel is the first Vietnam veteran to serve as defense secretary, the second-in-command civilian position over the armed forces after the President of the United States.
Hagel, confirmed after a partisan fight, succeeds Leon Panetta. He faces the start of $46 billion in defense spending cuts scheduled to begin today.
In case you missed it...

Sessions and Shelby: Split votes on Hagel foreshadow split votes on treasury secretary

Al.com (Dean, 2/26) reports, "Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby walked onto the floor of the United States Senate Tuesday together. And that's where the togetherness ended. Moments later Sessions cast his vote against President Barack Obama's nominee for U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. Sessions was one of 41 senators to vote no, all of them Republicans. Shelby followed Sessions. He voted yes, one of 58 votes for Hagel but only one of four Republicans to give their votes to the former Republican senator from Nebraska.

President gives Bentley a shout out for goal of expanding preschool

The Birmingham News (Dean, 2/25) reports, "Gov. Robert Bentley got a quick shout out [Monday] from President Barack Obama. It came during remarks the president was making before the nation's governors who had come to the White House to meet with him. Specifically it came after Obama began talking about the need of the nation to significantly increase the number of children attending preschool. Improving access to preschool education for four-year-olds was one of the themes stressed in Obama's State of the Union Address two weeks ago. It was also an area Bentley stressed in his State of the State Address earlier this month.

House Appropriators Embrace Webcasting

Daniel Schuman writes for the Sunlight Foundation: "In a welcome turn toward transparency, House Appropriators are now set to webcast all public hearings starting this week. As late as last week, only 2 of the 10 meetings for this week were scheduled to be online. All committees except Appropriations have webcast the vast majority of their proceedings since the Republican leadership's passage of a House rule at the start of the 112th Congress requiring webcasting 'to the maximum extent practicable.' Of special note is the webcasting of several proceedings that will take place inside in the Capitol building itself, in room HT-2. This tiny room is often too small to admit all interested members of the public, especially with the large staff entourage that often accompanies testimony by legislative branch agency leadership... C-SPAN does not usually cover the committee's proceedings, so the only way to see what happens is to go and hope you get in."


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BCA Events
Reception Saluting
State Leaders
BCA's annual Reception Saluting State Leaders will be at 5:30 - 7 p.m.,
Tuesday, March 12, at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center. RSVP to Pam Ware at pamw@bcatoday.org.
The 2013 Alabama
Manufacturer of the Year Awards Luncheon with keynote speaker Gov. Robert Bentley will be
Friday, April 19, 2013,
11:30 a.m. at the
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center.
Reserve your seat today!

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