The ink on the final debt and spending agreement hadn’t even dried and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republicans’ leader, was already drawing a red line around the next fight: budget sequesters.
The Kentucky Republican acknowledged the deal he had negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wasn’t a particularly good bargain for Republicans, but he said it had one bright spot in that it didn’t break the sequesters — the automatic spending cuts Congress and President Obama agreed to in 2011 that have helped cut overall federal spending the past two years.
“That’s been a top priority for me and my Republican colleagues throughout this debate. And it’s been worth the effort,” Mr. McConnell said. “Preserving this law is critically important.”
For their part, Democrats were also gearing up for the fight, hoping to erase all or most of the sequesters and replace them with tax increases. Republicans will demand that any changes come from other spending cuts.
The battleground will be a House-Senate conference committee charged with hammering out a final 2014 budget. Going to conference is part of the deal Mr. Reid and Mr. McConnell struck.
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