July 29th, 2012
09:59 AM ET
2 years ago

Senators spar over fiscal cliff

(CNN) - Two senators said Sunday the impending 'fiscal cliff' that would automatically slash billions from the U.S. Department of Defense needed to be avoided, but offered different timetables for resolving the problem.

The so-called "sequester," which would force the Pentagon to cut $500 billion from its budgets over the next decade, came about after congressional negotiators failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan last fall. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, one of 74 senators to vote for the measure that included the automatic cuts last August, said Sunday he didn't expect any action to take place on staving off the cuts ahead of November's election.

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"Let me be honest with you, in the next 100 days before the election, the political environment is not one for compromise and negotiation, but if we are prepared the day after the election to move forward with a plan that restores confidence in the economy and the ability of Congress to react to it, it is going to be a positive thing for us, and I think that we can do it," Durbin told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."

Durbin said Republicans blasting the upcoming automatic cuts were forgetting that they backed the measure last year.

"There is a case of Republican amnesia on the floor of the Senate," Durbin, who represents Illinois, said. "We have the Republican Senate leaders coming to the floor and blasting sequestration that they voted for."

His own vote for the measure, Durbin said, was based in a fear of a potential government shutdown that Republicans were threatening as an alternative.

"The tea parties and their followers in the Senate said they were prepared to shut down the economy in America and default for the first time and instead we came up with a bipartisan approach that was brokered with the Republican leaders and the president," Durbin said.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican who voted against the automatic cuts last year, said leadership was required from President Barack Obama to prevent the sequester from going into effect. Unlike Durbin, she said a solution could be reached before the November election.

"It makes me sick that some in Washington and particularly some of the Senate Democrats and even the president, unfortunately, want to use our military as a bargaining chip," Ayotte said on "State of the Union."

Ayotte continued, "I am willing to sit down with members on both sides of the aisle and resolve it before the election, because if we wait until after the election, it is not just the national security, as Secretary Panetta said we would be shooting ourselves in the head, and undermining our national security, but in terms of the industrial base with nearly 1 million jobs."

The onus is on the White House and Obama to lead negotiations on a deal, Ayotte said.

"Here he is talking about giving a speech to the military, and why isn't he right now at the table with members of both sides of the aisle resolving this? He could lead this effort and he has been AWOL on this. I'm calling on him to do this," Ayotte said.

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Filed under: 2012 • Congress • Dick Durbin • Kelly Ayotte
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Jack

    Don't blame the Democrats. This was a BIPARTISAN deal. The choice was to shut down the gov't or make a deal both parties would sign off on.

    July 29, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. rla

    Both parties are to blame and now we have a political spin game instead of solution.... I don't know how these people sleep at night considering teheir constant spin of reality.... COUNTRY FIRST DOLTS!

    July 29, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  3. enuff

    Congress put this deal into play... Congress needs to deal with it, not blame the president. these guys are supposed to be intelligent adults. it's time they acted as such.

    July 29, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. enuff

    Why should Pres. Obama negotiate with domestic terrorists which have have vowed to destroy him at every turn? It's time they took responsibility for their own actions.

    July 29, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. Has Mittens "RETROACTIVELY RETIRED" as the GOVERNOR of MA back to before he signed ROMNEYCARE???

    Congress came up with this ingenious plan, so Congress needs to solve it.

    Quit whining and get to work.

    July 29, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. California

    The communist in the White House MUST go. His war on America must nd.

    July 29, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. California

    This administration want's nothing more than to destroy the Bill of Rights. They've proven that in recent weeks.

    July 29, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Dave

    I try to take a nuanced bipartisan point of view, but every time I read one of these articles the republican is a ignoring the truth. The Tea-Party republicans insisted on this bill which includes the cliff in order to avoid a shut down. Now it's the presidents fault it's there? Sheesh.

    July 29, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  9. California

    Gibbs spewing on "The week" blaming Bush yet again. They can't take responsibility for flushing he toilet.

    July 29, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. California

    "If you have a business you didn't build that" ~ Hussein Obama

    July 29, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. California

    We all know that nothing Hussein Obama does i his fault. He has immunity this term right libs?

    July 29, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. vic , nashville ,tn

    Yeah first they will say president must lead, if he led that is called socialism

    Yes we heard enough from republicans

    July 29, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. Dan5404

    There is no dealing with the GOP, especially before an election. As always, for the GOP, It's my way or the highway, and that is unacceptable to the mjority of Americans and any Democrat. They've slowed America's reovery with record filibusters and hate for Obama instead of doing their jobs.

    July 29, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. Barnacle Bob

    First and foremost, Dick Durbin is a tremendous senator, down to Earth and pragmatic. Happy to be represented by him.

    Now, as far as the Republican senator saying that democrats and the president want to use our military as a bargaining chip....well, considering that we spend 100s of billions of dollars a year more on our military than any other country in the world, I would say that maybe we're playing with house money?

    What's going to happen? Cut $50bil/year, mainly in inflated contracts, and what? We're going to be invaded? Let's get real.

    July 29, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. George

    Republicans forget that they were the one that said we will do nothing for four years anad see how the country is at that point. Republicans are to blame for the recesion and for us not being further along in the recovery. If you went to school and said I will do nothing and see if I graduate you would find in four years you would be out of school and probebly out of a job. So why isit that these fools are allowed to apply for hteir job again when they did nothing for four years? Romney wants to run the country like a buisness which means he will fire as many as possile to become lean. Meaning higher unemployment
    Yeah, you make the choice.

    July 29, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. King

    its amazing how these repubs destroy everything they do, with their extreme ways, yet when the same extreme crap they tried, goes down the drain they always find a way to blame the president, then pretend they had nothing to do with it.

    July 29, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. rs

    This is an American problem. Too bad the GOP is in full anti-American mode. They won't rest until we are a plutocracy, with millions more living in poverty.

    July 29, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. rs

    California- do you commute from your fantasyland, or do you just phone all that nonsense in? Really- not one of your assertions even has a grain of truth in it.

    July 29, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |