WASHINGTON — With the sequester cuts set to kick in tomorrow, members of Congress from both parties took courageous stands and slammed their opponents.
House and Senate Democrats slammed Republicans for failing to legislate a solution, and for being unable to reach an agreement within their own party, much less with Democrats.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi slammed Republicans for leaving the District Thursday, and not remaining in session on Friday to deal with the cuts, attacking them for “the complete cavalier attitude that we don’t even need to be here to work on a solution.”
“We come to Washington to be legislators, to be representatives of our district, and to be legislators. And somehow that piece is missing from what the Republicans are doing,” she told reporters Thursday. “They’re just making noise. They’re just saying something that might have good sound for domestic consumption back home. But they did not come here to legislate. So either they don’t want to legislate, or they don’t know how to legislate. But there is really a void here,” she said.
The Senate will vote on two different bills to replace the sequester Thursday afternoon. The one proposed by Democrats would close tax loopholes and raise taxes on the wealthiest of Americans; the one proposed by Republicans would give President Barack Obama the power to pick out specific cuts and reductions to replace the sequester, and send a proposal to congress by March 15.
Boehner has insisted that it is the Senate’s job to pass a bill first to avert the sequester, saying that the House has already passed two bills that would replace the cuts.
Those two bills were passed in the last Congress and have since expired, as Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin pointed out in a press conference featuring Democratic leadership.
“Instead of trying again, the House has basically decided to sit it out,” he said.
“House Republicans deserve to be called to task for leaving the American people in the lurch at this critical juncture,” he added.
Democrats also criticized Republicans for being divided amongst themselves about what to do about the sequester.
“Democrats are united. … Republicans are all over the map,” said Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray.
“Senate Republicans have spent days now fighting amongst themselves regarding which bill they’re even going to offer to their members as an excuse to vote against ours,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer. “And House Republicans couldn’t even be bothered to take a vote. They sat on their hands. Maybe because Speaker Boehner knows his members couldn’t pass it.”
Boehner has had to rely on Democratic votes several times to pass bills within the House. Earlier on Thursday, the Violence Against Women Act passed with a minority of the majority party voting for it.
“The speaker keeps saying they’re just kicking the can down the road,” Pelosi said, referring to Boehner’s reaction to requests to delay the sequester cuts. “Well that would be at least some distance. They’re nudging the potato across the table with their nose. They’re not making any progress whatsoever. In fact they’re setting us back.”