Obama signed the budget deal. The Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, voted for it. So did House Speaker John Boehner. Neither Allen nor Kaine was a member of Congress at the time.
The looming, one-year defense cuts of about $55 billion also have popped up in House races in California and Colorado, where Democratic challengers have criticized incumbent Republicans for jeopardizing military dollars and jobs. In key states and districts, the obscure deal is a pocketbook issue with voters still jittery over jobs and bills in the wake of recession.
In a newly redrawn San Diego-area district, Democratic challenger Scott Peters has criticized GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray for voting for the budget plan, warning of the potential loss of 30,000 jobs in the region. Bilbray insisted that it wasn't ideal, but it was the best bipartisan solution available.
In a suburban Denver district that is home to Buckley Air Force Base, Democratic challenger Joe Miklosi assails Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, arguing that the congressman and other House Republicans have forced the crisis by refusing to compromise on a budget deal.
"Some of these people are going to get a pink slip because Congress didn't do its job," said Miklosi. "We're playing with people's lives here. They're nervous, they're concerned."
Coffman, who served in Iraq with the Marines, said most voters are broadly concerned about the national budget but aren't yet attuned to the latest fiscal deadline and what it would mean. He believes a spending deal will be reached in time to avoid the cuts, saying he gets questions about sequestration mostly from business executives in military industries.
"They're very worried about it, but it hasn't filtered down to the rank-and-file employees in those same businesses," Coffman said.
Kaine, a former governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a debate in July that he supported the default-avoiding budget compromise. Allen seized on the remark and has run ads accusing Kaine of supporting a deal that holds the military hostage. He cites studies that have shown that as many as 200,000 jobs in Virginia could be lost if sequestration takes effect.