US & World

Sequester: President Obama signs order to begin across-the-board spending cuts

President Barack Obama.
President Barack Obama.
Charles Dharapak/AP

UPDATE 5:43 p.m. President Barack Obama has signed an order authorizing the government to begin cutting $85 billion from federal accounts, officially enacting across-the-board reductions that he opposed but failed to avert.

Obama acted Friday, the deadline for the president and Congress to avoid the steep, one-year cuts.

Obama has insisted on replacing the cuts, known as a "sequester" in government budget language, with tax increases and cuts spread out over time. Republicans have rejected any plan that included tax revenue.

The government says the reductions will soon result in furlough notices to government employees and will trim government spending on defense contracts and in domestic government programs. Active military personnel and anti-poverty and low-income assistance programs are largely protected from the cuts.

— AP

Previously: "Washington sure isn't make it easy" for the American people and the American economy, President Obama told reporters late Friday morning as he and other lawmakers failed to reach a deal to avert $85 billion worth of automatic "sequester" spending cuts due to start at the end of the day.

"Dumb, arbitrary cuts" will begin, Obama said, and he once again pointed a finger at Republicans. The GOP's leaders, said the president, won't agree to "close a single [tax] loophole" that might raise tax revenues.

RELATED: Sequestration timeline

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had just minutes earlier told reporters that "the president got his tax hikes on Jan. 1st. ... The discussion about revenue in my view is over. It's about taking on the spending problem here in Washington."

Obama, Boehner and other congressional leaders had just met at the White House for about an hour. The president said he told the others that "these cuts will hurt our economy, cost us jobs [and that] both sides need to be willing to compromise."

Obama also said, though, that "the American people are strong and resilient. ... We will get through this."

Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. More From Boehner.

While the president is speaking, Boehner's office has released this statement:

"At the White House this morning, Speaker Boehner continued to press the president and Leader Reid to produce a plan to replace the sequester that can actually pass the Democratic-controlled Senate. He suggested the most productive way to resolve the sequester issue will be through regular order. The speaker reminded the president that Congress just last month provided him the tax hike he was seeking without any spending cuts. It's time to focus on spending, the speaker told the group.

"The Republican leaders reiterated their willingness to close tax loopholes, but not as a replacement for the sequester's spending cuts, saying any revenue generated by closing tax loopholes should be used to lower tax rates and create jobs. Finally, the speaker reaffirmed his intention to move legislation through the House next week to fund and keep the government running regardless of how and when the sequester is resolved. The president and leaders agreed legislation should be enacted this month to prevent a government shutdown while we continue to work on a solution to replace the president's sequester."

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