Report: Senate Dems to unveil sequester replacement Thursday

Greg Sandoval/CNET

Senate Democrats are working on a replacement for the so-called sequester, and they hope to unveil the bill by Thursday, reports The Hill newspaper.

The proposal, which would pair spending cuts with new revenue, would replace the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts due to take effect on March 1.

Although both parties have generally agreed that the sequester's cuts - half domestic, half defense - represent an unacceptable risk to the economy and national security, finding a replacement has been easier said than done. Democrats' apparent resolve to put a substitute package on the table before Congress recesses next week, one Capitol Hill aide tells The Hill, would shift the burden of action to Republicans and give Democrats something to sell to constituents.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reportedly plans to introduce the draft plan to his caucus on Tuesday. If they approve it, it could be introduced on the floor of the Senate by Thursday.

The package will likely resemble a proposal put forward last week by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, which scrapped farm subsidies and raised taxes on oil companies and millionaires.

Republicans have sought to put the question of new revenue behind them, suggesting that a replacement for the sequester - and, for that matter, any future deficit reduction plans - should contain only spending cuts.

Passed in 2011 as part of the Budget Control Act, the sequester would reduce deficits by $1.2 trillion by cutting spending over nine years. The White House has pressured Congress to pass a bigger deal that replaces all nine years of spending cuts, but they admit that a smaller package replacing the first year may be necessary in the short term.