Boehner on Backup Fiscal Plan: ‘We Would Not Deal With the Sequester’

By Elizabeth Harrington | December 18, 2012 | 11:45 AM EST

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, joined by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, speaks to reporters about the fiscal cliff negotiations following a closed-door strategy session, at the Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( – Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) says the Republican backup plan to avert the “fiscal cliff” will not address sequestration – the deep, automatic budget cuts to military and domestic spending that take effect in 2013.

The House leadership is now offering “Plan B” to avoid looming tax hikes.

But on Monday, Boehner -- who once called the sequester is a “serious threat to our national security” -- signaled that the automatic spending cuts will not be part of a tax deal with the president.

Boehner was asked at a press conference what Plan B would mean for sequestration (the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years split evenly among defense and discretionary spending), the alternative minimum tax (AMT), the Medicare “doc fix,” and unemployment benefits. “Would you incorporate any of that into this ‘Plan B’ legislation?” Boehner was asked.

“We’re going to continue to look at how we would address those issues as we put this bill together that we would expect to be on the floor later this week,” Boehner said.  “But dealing with the issue of the alternative minimum tax, dealing with the death tax could likely be part of the bill that we will bring to the floor.”

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“What about sequester?” a reporter then asked.

“We would not deal with the sequester,” Boehner said.

The automatic cuts are set to take effect on Jan. 2, 2013 as a result of August 2011’s failed budget deal.  In an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, the Budget Control Act appointed a “super committee” to find a minimum of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts.

When the committee failed to reach an agreement, a sequester was set in motion, which will result in nearly $500 billion in cuts to the Pentagon that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has called “devastating.”

Speaker Boehner said in September that the sequester is a “serious threat to our national security and must be replaced.”

“The House passed a bill in May that replaces the president’s dangerous defense sequester with common-sense spending cuts and reforms, protecting our troops and reducing our deficit by another $243 billion,” Boehner said in a statement.  “But with only a few months before they’re scheduled to go into effect, President Obama and Senate Democrats have taken no action whatsoever to avert these cuts.”