Dems pan House GOP budget proposal, will whip votes against it

House Democratic leaders on Tuesday were quick to reject the latest proposal from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to end the shutdown and prevent a government default, saying it's a futile effort that will only bring the country closer to economic catastrophe. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, characterized the GOP plan as "irresponsible" and said Democratic leaders will urge their members to vote against it.

"They have an opportunity for a reasonable solution that's being discussed in the Senate, and it is another instance where they have rejected the responsible course that would lead to positive action," Hoyer said after a closed-door meeting of the Democratic Caucus in the Capitol.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, piled on, calling it a "reckless" strategy that will only prolong the current impasse.

"For the House Republicans to come out now and say they're going to do something contrary to what even their Senate Republican colleagues are discussing seems to be a reckless attempt to try to circumvent what the Senate is doing, which at this late hour … falls short of common sense," Becerra said.

Although Republican leaders have yet to release their bill, Hoyer later warned that Democrats will not accept legislation that delays ObamaCare's medical device tax and eliminates insurance subsidies for members of Congress.

He characterized the Republicans' plan as dead-on-arrival in the Senate and hammered GOP leaders for "putting the country at great risk by their inability to make reasonable decisions."

"This just delays the process," Hoyer said. "I don't think this is a bill that the Senate's going to take. We need to get the government open now."

Asked if any Democrats will support the plan, Hoyer said, "I hope not."

The Democratic opposition could prove significant, as conservative Republicans were quick to push back against their leaders' proposal, arguing that it doesn't go far enough to derail Obama's 2010 healthcare law.

The push-back has forced GOP leaders, who are hoping to vote on a bill Tuesday, to reassess their strategy.

“I think we are putting some good steps toward something the House would be able to support before the end of the day,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), one of the conservatives wary of the initial package.

Unveiled Tuesday, Boehner's new proposal mirrors an emerging Senate deal by raising the debt ceiling into February, opening the government immediately and extending funding until the middle of January.

But the House bill adds two amendments designed to win favor from conservatives. The first would delay a medical device tax that's helping to fund ObamaCare. The second would eliminate federal insurance subsidies for members of Congress and top Cabinet officials.

Asked Tuesday if the bill would win over any Democrats, Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) didn't mince words.

"No way," he said. "What's happened is that Boehner made himself irrelevant by not participating in the discussions, so this is a last-ditch effort where once again he's catering to the Tea Party wing of the party. And it won't work."

— This story was first posted at 11:05 a.m. and has been updated.