The Interior Department says automatic spending cuts set to take effect next month would lead to reduced hours and services at national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands. The department is preparing to reduce hours and services at all 398 national parks and possibly could close up to 128 wildlife refuges.
The State Department warns it would lose $2.6 billion in department and USAID funds this year. The cuts would mean $200 million less in humanitarian assistance for places like Syria and Somalia, and $300 million less in foreign military financing to U.S. allies such as Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
Security at U.S. diplomatic installations, incredibly sensitive since the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, would also be affected, as would international peacekeeping operations in Mali and elsewhere and programs combatting terrorism, weapons proliferation and drug trafficking.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters on Thursday the sequester was Obama's idea and said it's up to Senate Democrats to see if they can pass legislation to replace it with other spending cuts.
"The sequester, I don't like it. No one should like it. But the sequester is there because the president insisted that it be there. Where's the president's plan to replace the sequester that he insisted upon?" Boehner told reporters.
The Senate bill would forestall the cuts through Dec. 31 and substitute about $120 billion in deficit savings over the coming decade. Almost $1 trillion worth of cuts over the coming eight years would remain in place.
But Republicans are likely to block the measure because it contains a 10-year, $47 billion tax increase known as the "Buffett Rule" that would require people with million-dollar incomes to pay a minimum of 30 percent income tax. The rule is named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, whose secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does.
The measure would also raise about $24 billion by cutting much-criticized direct payments to farmers in addition to $27 billion in Pentagon cuts. Interest savings would contribute most of the rest.