What Time Does the Sequester Start?

February 27, 2013

Because there appears to be no serious effort to stop it before it starts, we have to think about the actual mechanics of the sequester.  First question: What time does the sequester actually start? President Obama must sign an order starting the sequester by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 1. Sources close to my imagination say Obama will commence the cuts by pulling a ceremonial train whistle that will rattle windows across Washington, D.C.
 
And now for the essay portion of our quiz: What time does the sequester end? Both the White House and Congress believe the other party will blink first. We don't know for sure how this sequester will play out, but we do have some past sequesters to judge by. If 2013 follows the 1990 example, then it won't last long. As the Bipartisan Policy Center explains, Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 set deficit reduction targets. The Office of Management and Budget would issue a "sequestration report" projecting whether that target would be hit. If Congress wasn't on target, it would have a a short amount of time to either pass deficit reduction measures or face automatic cuts. Spoiler: Congress didn't hit the target unless they were relaxed.

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