Boehner says House won't act on sequester cuts before Senate

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday said the House will not act to prevent $85 billion in spending cuts set for March 1 unless the Senate acts first.

Boehner expressed frustration that the Senate did nothing with House-approved bills in the previous Congress that would have replaced the sequester and said it was “incumbent” now on President Obama and Senate Democrats to approve a plan by March 1.

“We've played our cards, we've laid out our hand, passed those bills. [They] went to the Senate and nothing happened,” Boehner said following a closed-door meeting of his conference. “It’s time for the Senate to do its job.”

Obama has called for Congress to replace the sequester with different spending cuts and tax increases, and Senate Democrats plan to unveil such a proposal by Thursday.

But Boehner, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other Republicans say a replacement bill should include no new taxes after the “fiscal cliff” deal earlier this year included $600 billion in new taxes.

Boehner said the cuts will hit congressional offices as well as the other government agencies, meaning his own members will feel their pain.

GOP leaders sent a notification to lawmakers on Tuesday detailing how to handle the cuts.

“The sequester will in fact hit members and their offices, and the leadership offices and committees, and in addition to that, other Capitol offices. ... We're prepared to deal with it, and I hope that it wouldn't happen,” Boehner said.

The Speaker has likened the sequester to a “meat ax” hitting the government, but has argued it would be better for it to go forward than to impose new taxes.