WASHINGTON — Speaker of the House John Boehner had a harsh message on Tuesday for the Senate Democrats, who he says need to take the first steps to get a deal passed to avert the sequester: “get off” your “ass.”
“We have moved a bill in the House twice,” Boehner said, referring to two bills the House passed in the last congress to replace the sequester. “We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.”
The sequester cuts are due to kick in on Friday, March 1. All sides have made clear that they do not want the cuts to take effect, including Boehner himself. Yet the parties have failed to reach an agreement to avert the cuts. President Barack Obama has said any balanced solution must include new revenues, while Republicans say that he got new revenues in the fiscal cliff deal in January, and that the sequester should be replaced by spending cuts.
Boehner also criticized President Barack Obama for holding campaign-style events to build public pressure to avert the sequester, instead of meeting with Senate leadership to try to craft a bill.
“I don’t think the president’s focused on finding a solution to the sequester. The president’s traveling all over the country, today going down to Newport News in order to use our military men and women as a prop in yet another campaign rally to support his tax hikes,” Boehner said. “Now the American people know if the president gets more money they’re just gonna spend it. The fact is that he’s gotten his tax hikes, it’s time to focus on the real problem here in Washington, and that is spending.”
“The president has known for 16 months that this sequester was looming out there when the Super Committee failed to come to an agreement, and so for 16 months the president’s been traveling all over the country instead of sitting down with senate leaders in order to try to forge an agreement over there in order to move a bill.”
The two House bills to replace the sequester were passed in the last congress, and therefore are no longer valid in this congress. But Boehner said that was beside the point.
“It’s time for the Senate to act. It’s not about the House. We’ve acted,” he said, in response to a question about the bills having been passed in the last congress. “Where’s the president’s plan to avoid the sequester? Have you seen one? I haven’t seen one … Where’s the Senate Democrat plan. I want to see it.”
House Republicans have said that the ball is in the Senate’s court to pass a bill to replace the cuts, and that the House will then take up that bill. But the House will not take action on a bill until then.
That approach has come under criticism by some in their own party. On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker urged a solution to avoid the sequester, and told reporters: “We’re not here speaking on behalf of Republicans on the Hill, we’re speaking on behalf of Republican governors. The contrast is, we’re providing leadership.”