WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration and congressional Republicans are quietly working in tandem to blunt the impact of short-term spending cuts that kicked in with dire White House warnings a few days ago, with both sides eager to pocket the full savings for deficit reduction as they pivot to a new clash over Medicare.

The overall size of the cuts remains in place: $85 billion in reductions through the end of the budget year on Sept. 30, half from defense and half from domestic programs as diverse as education, parks and payments to doctors and hospitals treating Medicare patients.

But legislation drafted by House Republicans to prevent a government shutdown on March 27 also gives the Pentagon and the Veterans Affairs Department flexibility to allocate cuts that no agency currently has. A vote on the measure was arranged for Wednesday.

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