“I don't like it,” Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol, referring to the post-sequester 2013 level. “[But] current levels can be defined a number of different ways, obviously, and 988 is a higher number, as I said, than the 967, by $21 billion.
“That is better, not because it's simply more money, but because it's a more sustainable figure,” Hoyer added. “That's the confusion here: There're a number of figures out there, and everybody is choosing the figure they like.”
Complicating the debate, conservatives in both chambers are also pressuring GOP leaders to oppose any new spending bill that includes funding for Obama's healthcare reform law.
Meanwhile, Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiMikulski on Warren flap: Different rules apply to women It's not just Trump's Cabinet but Congress lacks diversity The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Md.), head of the Appropriations Committee, is pushing a 2014 spending cap of $1.058 trillion.
Hoyer said Tuesday that he'll fight for the higher figure but also acknowledged that, with Republicans controlling the House, Democrats won't get everything they want.
“You know, we're $91 billion apart. Let us say for the sake of argument that you split the difference. That would certainly be, you know, a discussion that we could have,” he said. “But the fiscal year '13 [cap] that we all budgeted for presumably was pre-sequester, not post-sequester.
“We're going to have to come to some sort of agreement,” he added, “[but] we have not been very encouraged by the willingness of the Republicans to go to conference.”
Hoyer also urged House lawmakers to remain in Washington in September as long as it takes to reach a deal. As scheduled, the House is expected to be in session for only nine days of the month.
“Clearly, if we haven't adopted a CR [continuing resolution], we ought to cancel the last week of September's break period, and we ought to be here working,” Hoyer said.
This story was last updated at 10:02 a.m. on July 31.