$85 billion in automatic across-the-board cuts became law last week, as President Obama and Congress struggle to find a solution to the crisis. Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on this story.
Today's programming highlights...
9:30 am ET - Justice Department oversight hearing - Attorney General Eric Holder may discuss spending cuts and drones when he testifies at an oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Wal-Mart's envoy to the White House's gun violence task force will meet with Attorney General Eric Holder, not the group's leader Vice President Joe Biden, an administration official said Thursday.
Biden is scheduled to meet with gun owners and gun rights groups Thursday, including the National Rifle Association. Later in the day he'll sit down with representatives of the entertainment and video game industries.
After initially declining an invitation to attend at meeting with the gun panel, Wal-Mart announced Wednesday that it would participate in a meeting with the group, which was assembled after the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.FULL STORY
The House of Representatives voted Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt for refusing to turn over documents tied to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting - a discredited operation that has become a sharp point of contention between Democrats and Republicans in Washington.
The 255-67 vote marked the first time in American history that the head of the Justice Department has been held in contempt by Congress. Almost every House Republican backed the measure, along with nearly 20 Democrats.
A large number of Democrats - including members of the Congressional Black Caucus and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi - walked off the House floor in protest and refused to participate in the vote.
The criminal contempt charge refers the dispute to District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, who will decide whether to file charges against Holder. Most legal analysts do not expect Machen - an Obama appointee who ultimately answers to Holder - to take any action.
House members are also expected to pass a civil contempt measure Thursday afternoon. The civil measure would allow the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to file a lawsuit asking the courts to examine the Justice Department's failure to produce certain subpoenaed documents, as well as the validity of the administration's recent assertion of executive privilege over the documents in question.
Legal experts contacted by CNN have said, based on recent precedent, that it could take years for the courts to reach any final decision.
Fast and Furious, a so-called "gun-walking" operation, allowed roughly 2,000 guns into Mexico with the goal of tracking them to Mexican drug cartels. Two guns found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry's fatal shooting were linked to the operation. Guns from the operation have also been linked to an unknown number of Mexican civilians' deaths.FULL STORY
The U.S. House will proceed with a vote Thursday on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Holder has been cited for withholding documents in the "Operation Fast and Furious" weapons operation.
Fast and Furious was a federal operation that involved agents' allowing illegal sales of guns believed to be destined for Mexican drug cartels. The idea was to track the sellers and purchasers, but things went awry when weapons found at murder scenes were traced back to the program.
As the proceedings continue with Holder, here's a bit of background on his time as Attorney General, as well as a timeline of the events involving Fast and Furious. (For an in-depth breakdown, you can also read more about the Fast and Furious investigation, which started with an agent's death.):