WASHINGTON—Democrats and tea party Republicans have killed a GOP plan to give the president more flexibility to apply automatic government spending cuts due to start on Friday.

The failed bill would have required President Barack Obama to try to replace the budget cuts in hopes of shifting money to ease shortfalls in top-priority programs like air traffic control, federal courts and meat inspection.

Democrats and the White House opposed the measure, which would have locked in $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts through the Sept. 30 end of the budget year. They said the added flexibility would be of limited help.

Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey was a sponsor of the measure. He says the measure would allow Obama, quote, to "distinguish between more sensible government spending and less sensible spending."


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