Speaker of the House John Boehner expressed pessimism on Monday that a deal will be reached by the end of the week with Democrats to stop the across-the-board spending cuts both parties dislike, known as the sequester.
“Hope springs eternal,” Boehner said, when a reporter asked whether he expects that sequestration will go into effect on Friday.
Sequestration refers to the $85 billion in cuts to the federal government’s defense and discretionary spending set to go into effect March 1, unless Congress passes some sort of legislation preventing it.
Both Republicans and Democrats warn that sequestration could harm vital government services and disrupt the economy. But they are divided on how to replace it. (RELATED — Bob Woodward: Obama lied repeatedly on sequester trigger, blamed GOP)
President Barack Obama is pushing again for more tax revenue as part of any debt reduction package to replace the sequester, even though he got higher tax rates implemented for the wealthy in last month’s “fiscal cliff” deal. Boehner has made it clear he will not tolerate that.
In a news conference with the House GOP leadership inside the Capitol, he said: “We know there are smarter ways to cut spending and continue to grow our economy.”
He called on President Obama to meet with Senate Democrats and “move a bill” to replace the sequester.
“It’s time for them to act,” Boehner said, flanked by members of the House GOP leadership. “I’ve made this clear for months now. Yet we’ve seen nothing.”
Speaking from the Senate floor on Monday, Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid emphasized that he wants to replace the sequester with raising taxes again on the wealthy.
“Senate Democrats would temporarily replace this harsh austerity with a combination of smart spending reductions and measures that close corporate tax loopholes, end wasteful subsidies and ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share,” he said.