By Russell Berman - 08/01/12 01:14 PM EDT
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pledged on Wednesday to call the House back into session during its five-week August recess if the Senate takes action to prevent a tax hike and looming defense cuts at the end of the year.
Boehner and the House Republican leadership sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) making the commitment in their latest bid to draw out a Democratic proposal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” at year’s end.
“If the Senate follows the House in passing legislation to stop the entire tax hike — including the small-business tax hike — in a manner that requires House approval before it can be sent to the president, it is our commitment that the House will reconvene immediately to ensure the measure is enacted at the earliest opportunity,” Boehner and three other House GOP leaders wrote in the letter. “But in order to avert the threat to our economy, the Senate must join the House in acting to stop the entire tax increase.”
Boehner also warned Reid that Republicans will not support a move simply to delay the defense cuts for a few months to buy more time. "A Senate vote to simply postpone the sequester, rather than replace it with common-sense cuts and reforms, is unworkable and unacceptable," his letter states.
Boehner planned to inform House Republicans of the letter in a closed-door conference meeting Wednesday morning.
The letter is unlikely to have much impact. Democratic leaders and the White House have vowed not to extend tax rates for the wealthy, and they have demanded that Republicans agree to revenue increases in any deal to replace the scheduled defense cuts, which even Democrats have warned could hurt the military. Democrats also want to replace automatic cuts to domestic programs scheduled to take place as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act.
Boehner told House Republicans that the letter’s message to Democrats was simple: “Translation: We’re putting this right at your doorstep. You own it. If Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama want to own a small-business tax hike and a devastating cut to our national defense, they are now set up perfectly to do so.”