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PolitiFact fact-checks U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson on the sequester

As Washington wrangles over how to avoid the sequester, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson spoke with a Central Florida news station to help explain the issue — and now viewers question his accuracy.

Anchor Ybeth Bruzual had asked Nelson, a Democrat, about mandatory budget cuts set to go into effect March 1: "How did we get to this point?"

Here’s what he told viewers of Central Florida News 13, a partner of PolitiFact Florida:

"Well, a year and a half ago, when the country, in order to pay its bills, (and we) had to raise the artificial statutory debt ceiling so the country could pay its bills, a deal was struck: a trillion dollars of cuts went into effect immediately, and then a special committee was set up. They were to get agreement on another $3 trillion of cuts.

"Hanging over their head was a meat cleaver called the sequester, that was going to be, across the board, over a trillion dollars of additional cuts, but without a scalpel — a meat cleaver. Nobody ever expected the sequester to go into effect. It was never supposed to. It was the onerous alternative that would force the super-committee to come to agreement."

Nelson’s right that the sequester’s across-the-board cuts don’t allow for much fine distinction.

But was Nelson correct that the 2011 budget deal included "a trillion dollars of cuts went into effect immediately, and then a special committee was set up ... to get agreement on another $3 trillion of cuts"? Read PolitiFact to find out why we gave Nelson a Half-True.

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