Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday threw cold water on Democratic hopes of negotiating changes in the across-the-board budget cuts that went into effect this year as part of the debate on reopening the government and raising the nation's debt ceiling.
“The one thing I cannot accept … is the Democrats who want to exceed the sequester caps,” Paul, R-Ky., said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I can’t imagine you’re going to get Senate Republicans to vote for something that exceeds the sequester caps.”
“It’s a non-starter,” Paul added, calling sequestration the “law of the land.”
Talks between the White House and House Republicans broke down completely Saturday after both Senate Democrats and Republicans floated a bipartisan compromise from centrist Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that would end the government shutdown and raised the debt ceiling in exchange for tweaks to Obamacare. The White House says it will now deal chiefly with the Senate rather than the House.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are in direct talks since Saturday on a compromise that can be presented to the rest of the upper chamber quickly.
Democrats have long wanted to lessen the impact of across-the-board cuts imposed on federal programs by sequestration earlier this year. Their intent was to reduce those cuts during negotiations over a temporary funding bill needed to reopen the government.
Also looming is Thursday's deadline for increasing the nation’s debt limit. If leaders fail to unite around a plan, the federal government risks default on it’s debt and a possible downgrade in credit rating — events that would roil the U.S. economy and global markets.
Paul supports raising the debt ceiling, but slammed Obama for his handling of the situation.
Paul charged that it is “irresponsible for [Obama] to scare people” about potential economic consequences rather than "soothing" the financial markets.