Top Democratic leaders are pressing U.S. House Speaker Rep. John Boehner to cancel a six-week recess, saying the lower chamber should stay in Washington and pass legislation that would avoid deep federal spending cuts.
“Democrats do not believe the House should recess this week, or at all, until we have met our responsibilities to the American people,” House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and other Democrats wrote in a Sept. 20 letter to Boehner. “Our nation can ill-afford economic uncertainty that will result from Congress remaining idle for another six weeks.”
The House is slated to adjourn by week’s end and likely will not return until after Election Day, Nov. 6. That means House members would be focused on campaigning instead of finding common ground to avoid twin $500 billion cuts to planned defense and domestic spending.
Pentagon officials have warned the pending cut to planned defense spending would hinder force readiness, slow future weapon development and undermine national security. Economists are warning about the broader fiscal impact of both the defense and domestic cuts.
“At a minimum, before we return to our districts we must pass a comprehensive and balanced plan to prevent sequestration and responsibly reduce the deficit,” the Democratic leaders wrote.
House Republicans are quick to point out that the lower chamber has passed five different bills that would cancel the defense cuts. Senate Democrats and the White House have rejected each one, saying they fail to adequately address the coming domestic cuts; Republicans say that claim is false.
During a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., said he plans to vote against a coming adjournment resolution because “walking away without passing some legislation ... is not very responsible.”
Several GOP committee members responded to Andrews’ remark and similar ones by other Democrats by pointing to the five sequester-themed bills the chamber has passed.
Chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said the House has acted, and if the Senate would pass some kind of sequester-voiding bill, any differences could be ironed out by a bicameral conference committee.
The Senate’s agenda currently includes no such legislation.