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Sequester blues: Congress faces buyer's remorse on defense cuts

With $1.2 trillion in mandated spending cuts set to start in 2013, lawmakers are scrambling to salvage $600 billion in defense spending. Meanwhile, there's plenty of blame to spread around for getting to this point.

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Speaker of the House John Boehner (R) of Ohio talks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday. 'We have this sequester because the President of the United States, for his own convenience, only wanted to deal with the debt limit once before the election,' he said.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Republicans including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the party’s leadership in Congress know who is to blame if defense spending gets hit come Jan. 1: President Obama.

When Mr. Obama campaigned in Virginia last week, the Romney campaign sent out a slew of statements from surrogates calling the $55 billion hit to defense spending coming in 2013 some variation of “President Obama’s defense cuts.”

During a press conference of House Republican leaders on Wednesday, the list of those whacking the president for failing in one way or another to head off the pending defense cuts was long: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon and Mr. Romney’s top liaison to Capitol Hill, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.

In the Senate on that same day, two prospects for Romney’s vice presidential slot – Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) of new Hampshire and Sen. John Thune (R) of South Dakota – lambasted the president and the Senate’s Democratic leadership for a lack of leadership on the issue.

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