Senate Democrats, GOP to stage votes on rival cuts
By ANDREW TAYLOR
WASHINGTON (AP) - Across-the-board spending cuts all but certain, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are staging a politically charged showdown designed to avoid public blame for any resulting inconvenience or disruption in government services.
The two parties drafted alternative measures to replace the cuts, but officials conceded in advance the rival measures were doomed.
At the White House, President Barack Obama invited congressional leaders to discuss the issue with him on Friday - deadline day for averting the cuts, which would slash $85 billion from the military and domestic programs alike.
Democrats controlling the Senate are pushing a $110 billion plan that would block the cuts through the end of the year. They would carve 5 percent from domestic agencies and 8 percent from the Pentagon but would leave several major programs alone, including Social Security, Medicaid and food stamps, while limiting the cuts to Medicare to a 2 percent reduction to health care providers like doctors and hospitals.
In this Feb. 26, 2013 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Barack Obama will meet Friday with the top leaders in the House and Senate to discuss what to do about automatic cuts to the federal budget, White House and congressional leaders said. The meeting is set to take place hours after the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts will have officially kicked in. This suggests both sides are operating under the assumption a deal won't be reached to avert the cuts ahead of the March 1 deadline. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)