House Democrats Take Another Crack at Sequester Replacement

Although efforts to replace the sequester have been on hold for a while, the House Democrats, led by House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), have come out with a bill to replace the remaining 2013 and part of the 2014 sequester with $181 billion of savings over ten years. The bill is similar to one Rep. Van Hollen produced last year and one that Senate Democrats introduced this year.

The bill includes a roughly equal mix of tax increases and spending cuts, according to The Hill. The bill contains elements of both the House effort last year and the Senate effort this year. It includes the Buffett Rule ("Fair Share Tax") as its main revenue-raiser along with disallowing the domestic production deduction, expensing for intangible drilling costs, and the use of last-in first-out (LIFO) accounting for major oil companies.

As with last year's bill, the spending cuts include the elimination of direct commodity payments for farmers, a provision that has been included in the competing Congressional farm bills. It also reduces the defense spending caps in years 2017-2021, a similar provision to one included in the companion Senate sequester replacement bill.

Ideally, lawmakers would replace the sequester on a permanent basis with a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that makes much more gradual and smarter cuts and has savings in many different areas of the budget. However, the House Democrats' plan is positive in that it responsibly pays for a two-year repeal of the sequester.