Sequester 101: What happens if cuts kick in March 1 and four other questions

The sequester is a complex concept with a tortuous history. Here are the basics on the automatic spending reductions set to kick in March 1.

3. Who is to blame for the sequester?

Short answer: almost everybody.

The actual mechanics of the sequester – dangling a deficit-reduction goal in front of a team of lawmakers with a harsh consequence for failure – was dreamed up by the White House, notably by Treasury Secretary nominee Jacob Lew.

That’s the account given by veteran journalist Bob Woodward in his book, “The Price of Politics.”

Yet every member of the congressional GOP leadership who now criticize the cuts as the “president’s sequester” voted for the bill.

Another version of events, outlined by John Avlon of The Daily Beast, claims that the idea came from Speaker John Boehner’s office and the House Republican Policy Committee.

Whatever the case, the bill passed with 269 “yea” votes in the House – 174 Republicans (the vast majority of their conference) and almost 100 Democrats to boot.

On the Senate side, 28 Republicans joined nearly all Democrats to notch 74 "yea" votes.

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