Obama and Congress couldn't reach a deal to avert $85 billion in automatic spending cuts. Here's what that means.
It's really going to happen.
When President Obama kicked off his press conference late Friday morning by saying, "The good news is the American people are strong and they're resilient," you knew he was grasping at straws. The upshot is that some time Friday -- legally, it must happen by 11:59 p.m. -- Obama must sign an order putting automatic spending cuts into effect. How little chance is there for a deal? Well, the political Twittersphere is currently absorbed with this bizarre, disturbing story instead of even bothering to talk about it.
Here are all the questions you need answered about what happens next.
Weren't there Senate votes yesterday? And some sort of meeting today at the White House?
There were, and they all failed. Here's what happened. First, the Senate voted on a GOP plan that would have kept the first round of cuts, worth $85 billion, in place, but given Obama discretion on how to implement them, rather than using the across-the-board, blunt-object approach mandated by the original legislation. There were political risks and upsides to it: On the one hand, it would have meant cuts that were less "dumb," and the GOP could have attacked Obama's choice of cuts. On the other, it would have been an abdication of responsibility to the president, plus defense hawks feared Obama would mostly use it to cut Pentagon funding. In any case, it was defeated 38-62.