A divided U.S. Senate has gridlocked on last-minute proposals to avert $85 billion in broad-based federal spending cuts set to kick in tomorrow.
The partisan divide came after Senate chaplain Barry Black opened the day's session with a prayer asking God to save lawmakers from themselves.
A Republican proposal requiring President Barack Obama to propose alternative cuts that would cause less disruption in essential government services was defeated by Democrats. A Democratic alternative to spread the cuts over a decade and replace half with higher taxes on millionaires and corporations picked up 51 votes. But that was short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP-led filibuster.
The immediate impact of the reductions on the public is not clear. The administration has warned that the cuts will mean a reduction in defense capability, fewer federal services and both federal and state layoffs. Republicans counter that the impact is being hyped.