Budget

The House has approved a bill to fund the federal government through the end of September. The $982 billion continuing resolution introduced by Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), who heads the Appropriations Committee, would avoid a potential government shutdown on March 27.

Friday's deadline for President Obama to issue a sequestration order is neither the beginning nor the end of this year's budget battles in Washington. Here are five key moments to watch over the next seven months, and what's at stake in each:

By now, it's widely accepted that indiscriminate spending cuts in defense and domestic programs due to start March 1 are likely to occur owing to the failure of President Obama and the Republican-led House to reach an agreement to avoid the budgetary cleaver.

So now, the contest boils down to each side scampering for the higher ground of moral indignation.

Just as Congress faces another self-imposed fiscal deadline, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the Democrat and Republican who were charged by the president in 2010 to present a fiscal reform plan, presented a second solution today that seeks to cut the deficit by $2.4 trillion in the next ten years.

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Standing in front of first responders who he says could lose their jobs, President Obama pushed Tuesday for Congress to act now to avoid $85 billion in "automatic, severe budget cuts" set to kick in starting on March 1.

The cuts due because of the so-called sequestration "are not smart, they are not fair [and] they will hurt our economy," the president said.

The White House and congressional Democrats are sounding the alarm bells over the consequences of the sequester, the across-the-board cuts to the budget that are scheduled to go into effect in March.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the cuts would offset "pretty good" economic activity over the past few months. He said President Obama had a plan to cut an addition $1.5 trillion from the deficit.

It's been about a year and a half since Gen. Martin Dempsey left his job as chief of staff of the Army and became President Obama's top military adviser as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey is now responsible for reshaping the U.S. military after 10 years of war, which means scaling the forces down. At the same time, he's fighting to stave off across-the-board cuts to the defense budget — the so called sequester — that could happen in a couple weeks if Congress fails to reach some kind of budget deal.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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