Sequestration Starts… Uh, When White House is Good and Ready

It is time to synchronize the watches, it appears.

In Washington, where the White House and Congress cannot agree on how to avert $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to start March 1, they also are having trouble agreeing on when that “sequestration” starts.

The White House today is saying 11:59 pm Friday night.

That helps serve a narrative that the administration is trying to do something about it with a meeting among the president and congressional leaders of both parties scheduled at the White House on Friday.

On Capitol Hill, they’re saying the clock runs out on finding an alternative at midnight Thursday. The Senate, House Speaker John Boehner claims, is sitting on their “asses.” It’s the House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid maintains, that’s sitting on its “posterior.”

And March 1, after all, starts at 12:01 am Friday, on anyone’s clock.

Still, this is what the law says: “On March 1, 2013, the President shall order a sequestration for fiscal year 2013 pursuant to section 251A of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.”

That  allows the president to release that order as late as he likes Friday.

Remember, this is the government that runs Amtrak.

Lisa Lerer and Kathy Rizzo contributed.

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