Under sequestration, federal agencies don't have the flexibility to choose to spare popular programs or services by making administrative cuts elsewhere. Tatiana Popova /iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Will the clouds part, the sun shine and a sequester solution be found? Jason Reed /Reuters /Landov hide caption

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NPR's Tamara Keith on where things stand

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House Speaker John Boehner held a news conference Feb. 13 in which Republicans promoted the hashtag #Obamaquester to blame President Obama for automatic spending cuts set to kick in March 1. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

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President Obama, accompanied by emergency responders — workers the White House says could be affected if state and local governments lose federal money as a result of budget cuts — speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office building in Washington on Tuesday. Charles Dharapak/AP hide caption

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As he pressed Congress for action Tuesday, President Obama stood before a group of first responders. He made the case that their departments will be hurt if automatic budget cuts go into effect March 1. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

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Spending cuts that are part of the looming sequester could cause big job losses in defense and other industries. U.S. Navy/Getty Images hide caption

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