Obama threatens to veto House GOP 2014 spending bills

The White House sought to pressure House Republicans into a budget conference with the Senate on Monday, warning President Obama would veto any 2014 spending bills based on the House GOP budget.

In Statements of Administration Policy, the White House said Obama would veto all spending bills unless they pass Congress "in the context of an overall budget framework that supports our recovery and enables sufficient investments in education, infrastructure, innovation and national security for our economy to compete in the future."

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That language suggests the administration, like congressional Democrats, wants to use the conference to turn off the automatic spending cuts to domestic discretionary spending known as the sequester. The statements warned that average Americans would be hurt if Congress fails to restore some of these cuts.

The administration was responding to two spending bills the House will pass this week. One is the bill for the Department of Homeland Security, the other would fund military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Democrats have argued for weeks that Republicans are dodging a House-Senate conference on the 2014 budget. Democrats hope to use the conference to force an end to the sequester, which led to an $80 billion cut in spending this year, and would lead to another $76 billion cut in fiscal year 2014.

The case for turning off the sequester, however, has been weakened by an economy, which has strengthened in the face of the cuts. The administration warned the economy would be severely weakened by the sequester, but unemployent has fallen in recent months as consumer confidence has gone higher. The deficit has also declined, partly because of the spending cuts and separate tax hikes agreed to last year, and partly because of an improving economy.

House Republicans have said it's not worth holding a budget conference yet, since the House and Senate budget plans are so far apart. 

The sequester was created as part of the 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling and imposed cuts on defense and non-defense discretionary spending. 

The House budget would increase the non-defense discretionary cuts, while increasing defense spending. It would also lower tax rates.

The Senate budget pretends the sequester never happened and includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes.

The administration didn't mention the sequester in either of its statements, but it said the House bills would contribute to a depressed economy and require "draconian cuts to middle-class priorities." 

"These cuts could result in hundreds of thousands of low-income children losing access to Head Start programs, tens of thousands of children with disabilities losing Federal funding for their special education teachers and aides, thousands of Federal agents who can't enforce drug laws, combat violent crime or apprehend fugitives, and thousands of scientists without medical grants, which would slow research that could lead to new treatments and cures for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's, and hurt America’s economic competitiveness," the statements said.

The White House was careful to note that it supports the goals of both bills, and in many cases said it supports various funding levels in the two bills. But the statement made it clear that it wants to work on these goals "as part of an acceptable budget agreement."

It's unclear how many more spending bills the House will try to pass this year. Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the House would also move a Defense and an Agriculture spending bill.

But there are growing doubts that many more will follow, given the difficulty the House Appropriations Committee may have writing other spending bills that include another round of cuts.

This story was posted at 5:57 p.m. and updated at 7:45 p.m.