House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) vowed Tuesday to oppose any temporary spending bills that include the sequester cuts.
The warning came on the same day that House GOP leaders floated a stopgap proposal that would prevent a government shutdown by extending current spending levels – including the sequester cuts – into December. Without congressional action, the government would run out of funding on Oct. 1.
The Republicans bill is expected to hit the floor as early as Thursday.
It's unclear if GOP leaders have the votes to pass the measure through the lower chamber without Democratic support, as a number of conservative Republicans on Tuesday voiced reservations about the proposal. The skeptics are wary that the measure would not gut President Obama's 2010 healthcare reform law as a condition of funding the government, as many conservatives on and off Capitol Hill are insisting.
Asked Tuesday if other Democrats might support the Republican proposal to extend spending at the $988 billion, post-sequester, 2013 level, Hoyer said, "I hope not."
"In my view, that [level] is totally unacceptable and irresponsible," Hoyer said. "I've already told my Caucus that, [but] … I am not saying to you that I've had every member of my Caucus say, 'Amen.'
"I haven't whipped this in that sense," he said, "but I have told them that's my view."
Hoyer highlighted a blistering statement from Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who blasted his fellow Republicans in July after GOP leaders pulled a transportation spending bill from the floor for a lack of Republican support.
"With this action, the House has declined to proceed on the implementation of the very budget it adopted just three months ago," Rogers said at the time.
Rogers called on policymakers in the White House and Congress to join forces and craft "a comprehensive compromise that repeals sequestration, takes the nation off this lurching path from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis, reduces our deficits and debt, and provides a realistic topline discretionary spending level to fund the government in a responsible – and attainable – way."
Hoyer on Tuesday gave a full-throated endorsement for Rogers's statement, arguing that the $988 billion level contained in the GOP's stopgap bill "is not consistent with [Roger's] request."
"The world and our citizens are going to see whether this Congress is up to accomplishing that objective," he said.
Hoyer's warning this week is much more pronounced than comments he made just before Congress's August recess, when the Democratic whip did not rule out supporting a continuing resolution at the $988 billion level. At the time, he noted that that figure was preferable to the $967 billion spending cap many Republicans are urging for fiscal year 2014.
“I don't like it,” Hoyer said. “[But] current levels can be defined a number of different ways, obviously, and 988 is a higher number … than the 967."