Clyburn: We're not "locked in" to sequester cuts
Clyburn, in an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd, suggested he would be open to "redoing the sequester" as part of an agreement to extend and expand the payroll tax cut holiday set to expire at the end of the year. If it does expire, Americans making $50,000 per year would see a $1,000 tax hike, according to the White House.
Clyburn said Congress should make it a priority to "all sit down and find out a way to make sure that we don't raise taxes on middle-income people, that working people continue to be a part of this governmental process" - even if that means reconfiguring the trigger cuts and going against the will of the White House.
Later in the day, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said he opposed a redo of the sequester. He said Congress should continue to work on a package with $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next year to avoid the trigger.
The supercommittee announced this month that it would not be able to reach an agreement for reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion, as was tasked to them as part of Congress's August deal to raise the debt limit.
According to the debt limit deal, the committee's inability to compromise will result in $1.2 trillion worth of automatic cuts to the U.S. budget as of 2013. The so-called "sequester" cuts - which are equally divided between domestic and defense programs - were designed to serve as an incentive for compromise, and both parties had previously emphasized their commitment to avoiding those triggers.
The White House has said repeatedly that the trigger are not subject to change, and President Obama has pledged to veto any effort to undo them.
Clyburn, however, said Tuesday he doesn't think Congress is "locked in" to the sequester "in its current format."
"There are times when the we do things legislatively may not square up with an administrative way to do it, but that doesn't mean that we ought not try to find a way," he said, noting that he's aware the White House might not agree with his tactics.
"I believe that when you are trying to legislate, you try to create an environment within which you solve problems," he said. "And that's what we're trying to do."
Clyburn said he was "all for" the cuts, but emphasized that if they do go into effect as is, "it is going to be nasty."
"It's across the board," he said. "It will be a meat axe approach, and I don't think that's the best way to do it."
President Obama has urged members of the supercommittee to figure out a way to reach the $1.2 trillion in reductions before the triggers kick in.
"The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion dollars," he said in remarks following the committee's concession of defeat. "That's exactly what they need to do."
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