The Senate's consideration of the measure, which protects some programs from sequestration cuts, is taking place against the backdrop of Capitol Hill's broader debate about the deficit.
The New York Times: Finance Bill, Nearing Senate Passage, Would Protect Some Favored Programs
With the expected Senate passage this week of broad legislation to finance the federal government through Sept. 30, a lucky few programs will be spared the brunt of the automatic spending cuts now coursing through the federal government. … The overall size of the cuts will remain the same, as will the short-term impact on the economy, because total spending outside of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security must remain beneath a hard cap of $984 billion (Weisman and Lowrey, 3/19).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Squabble Over Spending Cuts Slows Progress On Bill To Avoid Government Shutdown
Across the Capitol, the Republican-controlled House began debate on a budget that promises to eliminate federal deficits in decade. The blueprint, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, D-Wis., calls for $6.4 trillion in spending cuts and no tax increases, and is expected to clear by week's end. For their part, Senate Republicans kept their distance from the plan, deciding not to seek a symbolic vote on it when the Senate begins its own budget debate later in the week. Sensing an opportunity for political mischief, Senate Democrats vowed not to let Republicans off easy. They said they would require a vote on Ryan's budget — even though they unanimously oppose it (3/19).