WASHINGTON -- Coming back from its Independence Day vacation, Congress appeared no closer Tuesday to finding a way to avoid yet another government shutdown showdown in the fall.
Democrats who are angry that Republicans have proposed spending bills that hike defense while continuing to cut other domestic programs have begun to filibuster all of those appropriations measures in the Senate, saying it's the only way to make Republicans negotiate and compromise on some items sought by Democrats and President Barack Obama. Obama has also threatened to veto those bills.
Asked if Congress was indeed headed for another shutdown battle -- and whether that was wise -- the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, answered that the unwise choice was for Congress to maintain the so-called sequestration spending levels it passed in 2011 when it was also unable to agree on debt and spending cuts.
"In world of alternatives, it is not wise to pursue sequester numbers. That’s bad for our country," Hoyer said, referring to the automatic, across-the-board cuts set in the 2011 Budget Control Act, which also raised the nation's debt limit.
The Republican budget calls for spending that eases sequestration on defense, but not on other areas, and the defense spending bill uses some $38 billion in "overseas contingency operation" funds -- essentially war funding that doesn't count against sequestration -- to boost the rest of the military.
I would hope that Republicans do the right thing.Steny Hoyer
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