Hoyer urges GOP to drop plans for debt ceiling contingency bill

In his weekly floor discussion with Cantor, Hoyer noted that one Republican official under the Bush administration said recently that payment prioritization would not stop payments, just delay them. He added that a former Treasury spokesman under former President George W. Bush has said payment prioritization is "impossible" and would be a "political catastrophe."

"I suggest not only would it be a political catastrophe ... but also a disaster for our economy," Hoyer said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Hoyer brought up the same issue last week with Cantor. But Cantor did not reply directly to Hoyer's question, and instead said taxpayers need to know how Congress plans to reduce the national debt.

Cantor gave a similar answer this week, after Hoyer argued that making the wrong move on the debt ceiling could lead to another credit rating drop for the U.S. government. Cantor said the credit rating of the U.S. also depends on its plans to pay back the debt.

The U.S. credit rating, he said, depends in part on showing "that there is demonstrable evidence that we are making progress in dealing with the problem. And that is the focus that we all must maintain."

Cantor also argued that tax hikes being proposed by Democrats are not the answer to shrinking the deficit and debt, because the real problem is sharply rising entitlement spending.

"We can see the White House and the president call for tax increases every other day, every day for that matter, and those are not going to deal with the spiraling out-of-control spending that raises the need for more debt," Cantor said.

Hoyer also asked Cantor this week whether the House and Senate would start a conference committee on the 2014 budget. Cantor said only that the House and Senate Budget committees are currently meeting on that issue.

Hoyer said that's not good enough, and that an open conference would be far better.

"While I'm appreciative of the fact that they're having discussions, very frankly the American people need to have a transparent view of discussions that would occur in a conference committee," Hoyer said.

While Cantor has said a debt contingency bill would soon be considered in the House, he did not say it would come up next week.

Instead, he said the House would vote on a bill that would take money from what Republicans say is an ObamaCare "slush fund" to pay for a temporary health insurance program for people with pre-existing conditions.

He also said the House would take up a bill requiring market-based sales from the national helium reserve.