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Washington - February 28

1. SOUNDBITE: Sen. Charles Schumer D-NY: " Washington's been consumed with the debate over the across-the-board spending cuts due to take effect tomorrow, but the discussion has not been the least bit productive. Rather than hash out the best way to replace sequestration, the conversation has instead revolved around who came up with the idea in the first place.

The blame game is nothing but a sideshow. The truth is, both sides have their fingerprints on sequestration, but only one side is trying hard to solve it. Amazingly enough, there are Republicans dancing in the streets, happy with the thought that sequestration will happen. The cuts were always intended to force the two sides to the table to revive a grand bargain on deficit reduction. We Democrats are still longing for that balanced approach. We're willing to make the tough choices necessary to get a grand bargain, but we need a dance partner.

We've had trouble finding one."


With the clock ticking down on both automatic spending cuts and President Barack Obama's second term, edginess has crept over the nation's capital.

Both parties are nervously jockeying for position as they maneuver to try to escape blame for the cuts and increasingly turn their eyes to the next elections.

Automatic cuts slashing roughly $85 billion from military and domestic programs begin to take effect Friday _ Day 40 of Obama's final term.

Obama is meeting Friday with the top Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress, but little headway toward a deal to replace the so-called

sequester cuts is expected by either side.