The President signed a sequestration order at approximately 8:45pm ET Friday night, the last step to implementing the across the board budget cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Earlier in the day, he met with leadership from the House and Senate. Following that meeting, the President delivered a statement and answered questions from the press. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) also spoke with the media.
Neither party was able to pass their plans to avert the sequester this week. The Republican plan largely focused on replacing the indiscriminate cuts with equal, but targeted cuts to government spending. The Democratic plan asked for additional revenue along with targeted cuts.
President Obama has asked for more discretion in how agencies cut funding.
Some parts of the government are exempt from the cuts, including combat troop pay and some welfare services. The White House has paraded Cabinet secretaries through the briefing room this week to highlight cuts their agencies will have to make. Last Friday, Transportation Secretary LaHood told reporters that the cuts would mean delays to commercial air travel, because fewer air traffic controllers would be on duty at any one time.
The Republicans have insisted that the White House is exaggerating the effects of the sequester. Polling released this week suggests that the public is less concerned with the effects of sequestration than politicians of either side are making them out to be.