Hoyer says sequester would not happen if he were in charge

"Budget discipline is absolutely necessary, but damaging job growth and our economy to do so is self-defeating," he said. "The only responsible way forward is for Republicans and Democrats to work together to achieve a balanced solution to deficits that can turn off the sequestration."

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Hoyer's remarks are similar to those he made earlier in the month when the House was leaving for Presidents Day recess — that Democrats would not allow the sequester to take place as Republicans seem willing to do. House GOP leaders have said they want the Senate to act first, but even so, Republicans seem unlikely to act on any Senate Democratic bill that replaces the spending cuts with new tax increases.

Hoyer used his brief time on the floor shortly after 2 p.m. to seek unanimous consent to call up a Democratic bill that would replace the sequester with small spending cuts and more taxes. But the presiding officer said that request could not be considered at this time.

After Hoyer spoke, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said Democrats should be blaming President Obama for the sequester given that it was the administration's idea to include the threat of spending cuts in the 2011 Budget Control Act.

"I appreciate the comments of our colleague from Maryland, but I think he needs to direct them to the president," Foxx said.