That's right! Congress has gone home for 10 days while an economic crises looms large for the US and world economies.
The brand new House and Senate each voted 15 February to recess for the Presidents Day week, which means lawmakers will have just four days -- once they return -- to deal with the $85 billion sequester due to take effect 1 March.
The sequester was a legislative tool designed to scare the Congress into doing its job. It clearly seems to have failed to produce this result.
If it goes into effect, the sequester means across the board cuts in every agency of federal government with no ability to control what is cut and what is not.
This is cutting spending with an 'blunt axe' and not a 'scalpel' and will hit every aspect of government spending.
If it goes into effect, the huge cuts contained in the sequester could push the US economy back into recession and take the rest of the world with it!
Economists argue that pulling this much spending out of the economy could have serious negative economic consequences.
Some believe the negative growth numbers in the last quarter were a direct result of actions which were in anticipation of the sequester cuts going into the effect.
In addition to the sequester there are more budgetary problems on the way. The entire US government runs out of money again 27 March and shortly thereafter the debt ceiling will need to be raised once again.
If the sequester occurs it could affect US Military readiness - while the US is at war - and has the potential to impact almost every aspect of US life and the US economy - including home loans, food safety, travel and the list goes on.
For example, this could pose a nightmare scenario for business and leisure travelers since it would include layoffs of air traffic controllers, TSA employees, customs and immigration officers - estimates include four to five hour delays at airports and average wait time to clear customs will increase by 50 %.
At the moment there is a standoff between the parties. Obama and the Democrats seems to be winning the political argument with most polls showing that Republicans will shoulder most of the blame if this occurs.
Meanwhile the American people are going to have a difficult time understanding why this new Congress is taking a week off with this crisis looming.
Marco Rubio is pre-empting President Obama's March visit to Israel, Jordan and the West Bank.
In a bold political move following upon his SOTU response to President Obama's address to Congress, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio - Time Magazine 'Republican Savior' and 2016 Presidential Hopeful - is now in the Middle East visiting Jordan and Israel.
Rubio left a Senate website message to his constituents on Saturday mentioning that as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Foreign Relations Committee he will be visiting Jordan and Israel.
He says he looks forward to meeting with King Abdullah as well as other members of the Jordanian government.
He is also interested in learning more firsthand about the impact the Syrian civil war and how the humanitarian crisis that has resulted is impacting Jordan and the region.
In Israel, he says he especially looks forward to meeting with president Shimon Peres and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss various areas of mutual interest, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
He looks forward to meeting with Palestinian prime minister Fayyad as well.
It appears that the maverick Senator from 'The Sunshine State' has also managed to upstage secretary of state John Kerry before his likely first official foreign trip which will include Israel, and Egypt scheduled before the end of the month.
Could all this focus on the region mean something positive could actually happen or is it just more political posturing for state-side consumption?
More to come!
Jon-Christopher Bua's blogposts for Sky appear here.
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