Turns out Republicans aren’t willing to cut defense down to sequestration levels after all.

On Tuesday, the House passed H.R. 2216: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014, which allocates more money to defense than allowed under the law. Implicitly, the idea is that the increase in defense spending will be paid for by further cuts to domestic spending.

The Obama administration on Monday threatened to veto the bill, arguing that the cuts would “result in hundreds of thousands of low-income children losing access to Head Start programs, tens of thousands of children with disabilities losing Federal funding for their special education teachers and aides, thousands of Federal agents who can’t enforce drug laws, combat violent crime or apprehend fugitives, and thousands of scientists without medical grants.” House Speaker John Boehner shot back, saying the White House was effectively threatening to shut down the government unless it got more spending and taxes.

This is an important fight that could, as Boehner says, end in a government shutdown — or it could end in a resolution that unwinds sequestration. But it’s brutally complicated and requires an understanding of one of the budget debate’s most confusing facts: There are really two sequesters.


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