The idea for the sequester came from the White House during negotiations in the summer of 2011 to increase the government's borrowing cap. Then, the White House pushed it as a way to avoid a second vote to increase debt limit that would have occurred in the middle of Obama's re-election campaign.
Whatever their reservations, top Republicans voted for the idea.
The sequester was intended to be so harsh that its prospect would drive a deficit-cutting "supercommittee" created by those talks toward an agreement. It did not.
The cuts were originally due to hit Jan. 1 but lawmakers gave themselves a two-month reprieve in last month's deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.
Many Republicans see the prospect of the sequester as their best chance to force Obama to agree to cuts in government benefit programs like Medicare, and some tea party Republicans are willing to absorb the sequester cuts if he won't go along. GOP leaders across the board say they won't agree to tax increases demanded by Democrats as part of any solution.
Obama carries the power of his office and the fact that he's more popular with the public than Capitol Hill Republicans into the battle. So Republicans already have been working overtime to remind voters that the sequester idea came from Obama's administration. Still, blaming the president for something some GOP members are embracing promises to be a tightrope exercise for Republican leaders.
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