(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker John Boehner used some choice words to pressure Senate Democrats to avert the looming sequester — $85 billion of arbitrary across-the-board cuts — insisting that “the House has done its job” and the President’s party.
“We have moved the bill in the House twice,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their a** and begins to do something.”
House Republicans voted twice during the 112th Congress to narrowly pass legislation to offset sequestration with alternative savings, but those measures languished in the Senate and expired with the end of the session.
Boehner also criticized President Obama for taking a Virginia trip “to use our military men and women as a prop in yet another campaign rally to support his tax hikes.”
“I don’t think the president’s focused on trying to find a solution to the sequester,” he said. “For 16 months, the president’s been traveling all over the country holding rallies, instead of sitting down with Senate leaders in order to try to forge an agreement over there in order to move the bill.”
House Democrats question whether there is sufficient support to pass the old GOP proposal.
“I don’t think I need to give the Speaker a lesson in legislating or how government runs, but whatever was done last year that didn’t get signed into law has evaporated. It is gone. It does not exist,” California Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Tuesday. “This is a new year, a new session of Congress and it’s time for everyone to get to work.”
Boehner avoided answering a question on whether he believes his weakened majority could pass the Republican bill again, and returned his attention to pushing for a vote in the Senate.
“It’s time for the Senate to act. It’s not about the House,” he responded. “We’ve acted.”
“Where’s the president’s plan to avoid the sequester? Have you seen one? I haven’t seen one,” he added. “All I’ve heard is that he wants to raise taxes again. Where’s the president’s plan? Where’s the Senate Democrat plan? I want to see it.”
Senate leaders are expected to introduce and vote on their respective plans later this week, perhaps by Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused Congressional Republicans of being “part of the problem” in finding a solution to the upcoming cuts, pressing for new tax increases to help offset the sequester.
“We want to work with Republicans to come to a balanced responsible way to reduce this sequester, the impact of it. My republican colleagues are standing in the way,” Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor. “They only want cuts and more cuts.”
Although Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he is not interested in a last-minute deal, Boehner said, “If the Senate acts, I’m sure the House will act quickly.”
The House is meeting for legislation business Tuesday, although no action to avert the sequester is expected. The House also meets Wednesday and Thursday, but is currently not expected to be in session on Friday.
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