Hoyer slams GOP for working on 'message bills,' not sequester

Hoyer was responding to Cantor's comment that the House next week will take up a bill that would block President Obama's Executive Order allowing federal workers to get a pay increase. Cantor made no mention of work on a bill dealing with the sequester.

ADVERTISEMENT
"The only bill we considered this week, other than suspensions, will not have any positive effect on the sequester," Hoyer said. "And the sequester is going to hurt our people, it's going to hurt jobs, it's going to hurt economic growth, it's going to do exactly the opposite of what the gentleman says … that we agree ought to be our objectives.

"We didn't do anything about it two weeks ago, we didn't do anything about it this week, and we're apparently not going to do anything about it next week either."

Hoyer's criticism comes amid reports that Republicans seem to be more willing to allow the sequester to happen, since it might be the only way to win any cuts to government spending. Hoyer read some of these press reports on the floor and seemed to be goading Cantor to admit that Republicans would let those cuts happen.

Cantor did not reply directly, and instead argued Democrats are still making it impossible to negotiate any agreement dealing with deficit reduction.

"Once again, what we hear from the gentleman and his caucus is, 'let's raise taxes, that'll fix the problem,' " Cantor said. "And we all know that the problem is spending."

Cantor also said House Republicans will soon produce a plan to balance the federal budget in 10 years, and said Republicans have not seen any plan from Democrats on how to cut the deficit.

"Where is the gentleman's plan? Where is the president's plan? Where is the other body's plan to balance this budget? That's all we're saying," he said.

Republicans have spent several days working on bills that force Democrats to develop a plan on the deficit. Last month, the House approved the No Budget, No Pay Act, which Republicans say helped force the Senate to start work on its first budget in nearly four years.

"What he calls a message bill is now law," Cantor said to Hoyer about that bill. "And so with that bill, we'll see what the Senate says about managing down this debt and deficit."

Earlier today, the House approved a bill aimed at forcing President Obama to estimate a date for when the budget will balance.

Hoyer charged Republicans with being opposed to any additional tax revenue, despite the work of several bipartisan groups that say new taxes and spending cuts is the best way to balance the budget. But Cantor replied by saying taxes are already higher as a result of January's debt ceiling deal.

"We just raised taxes," Cantor said. "We just put more revenue into the mix, $650 billion over ten years, and got no cuts, no cuts.

"I don't think it's right to be saying that we need more revenues now. We already did revenues, right?"

In early January, Republicans were careful to cast the debt ceiling deal as a vote to lower taxes, since Congress failed to pass any bill before lower tax rates expired. Still, the effect of the final agreement was higher rates going forward for incomes above $400,000 compared to last year.