Squabbling away the hours, the Senate last night swatted aside last-ditch plans to block $85 billion in federal spending reductions as President Barack Obama and Republicans blamed each other for the gridlock and the administration readied plans to put the sequestration cuts into effect, reports the Associated Press.

So entrenched were the two parties that the Senate chaplain, Barry Black, opened the day's session with a prayer that beseeched a higher power to intervene. "Rise up, O God, and save us from ourselves," he said of cuts due to take effect sometime on March 1.

On the Senate floor, a Republican proposal...

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staff and wire services reports