The March 1st sequester deadline has passed with no alternative in place. That means $85 billion in sequestration cuts are underway, as mandated by Congress in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Public Law 112-240). Even though the cuts to defense and domestic discretionary spending have not fully taken effect, Congress and the White House are already taking steps to modify them as the lobbying efforts by those who face these cuts continue.
The House of Representatives has passed a continuing resolution (“CR”) to fund the remainder of the fiscal year that, while capping spending at sequester-driven amounts, allows the Pentagon greater leeway in implementing the cuts. Senate Democrats want similar measures in place for domestic spending cuts. And the President has met with Republicans to see if a broader compromise on spending and taxes can be reached that would include “mandatory spending” programs, such as Social Security and Medicare. And both the President and the Speaker of the House have taken the option of a government shutdown off the table, should talks fail before the current CR expires on March 27th.
All of this points to a possible broader spending agreement in place that would end the current deadline-driven sequester process. Or not. We will know for sure in the next few weeks.