WASHINGTON -- A pair of last-ditch efforts to avoid the sequester failed this afternoon, triggering a series of deep cuts that will hit at midnight, causing across-the-board reductions in hundreds of government programs and services from military operation to meat inspection.
President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders are meeting Friday at the White House to attempt to resolve their differences over budget issues before the cuts known as the sequester damage the economy too much.
Republicans had put their hopes into a plan crafted by Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and James Inhofe of Oklahoma that would maintain the magnitude of the $85 billion in cuts but give the administration discretion over where to make the cuts.
Democrats, meanwhile, wanted to replace the automatic sequester with a mix of cuts to defense and agriculture along with new revenue from tax increases on millionaires.
Neither plan received the 60 votes required to avoid a filibuster by the opposing party.
The Toomey-Inhofe plan got just 38 votes, with some Republicans opposing because they didn't want to cede power to the White House. Meanwhile, a 51-49 vote on the Democrats' plan was not enough to clear the procedural threshold.
The votes came after vigorous debate, which included an unusual back-and-forth between Mr. Toomey and Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois after the Pennsylvania senator said that the sequester doesn't need to be devastating as the White House has suggested.
Tracie Mauriello: firstname.lastname@example.org