The No. 2 House Democrat says it’s time for House GOP leaders to take a stand and draft a long-term spending bill to keep the federal government running for the rest of the fiscal year, saying that short-term stopgaps are undermining the country’s stability.
“They ran, they said they were going to lead, and said they had answers,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, during his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters Tuesday. “We’ve made two offers, they’ve rejected our offers. So it’s their turn … they’re in charge.”
The government is now operating on a two-week spending bill that runs through Friday, and congressional leaders tentatively have agreed on another three-week extension. The stopgap bills have been necessary because Congress last year failed to pass a budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which runs through the end of September.
Hoyer says he hopes Tuesday’s vote in the House on another temporary spending bill is the last, calling the stopgaps “irrational, irresponsible and undermining of the effectiveness and efficiency not only of government but of the private sector.”
The minority whip said divisions within the House GOP ranks are making it difficult to negotiate a longer term spending deal.
“There are clearly some like Steve King (of Iowa) who thinks shutting down the government … would be an appropriate response to an inability to repeal the health care law,” he said. “That’s going to make it very difficult to get to an agreement.”
Hoyer particularly blamed conservative Republican freshmen for stubbornly refusing to compromise on a deal.
“A lot of their members want exactly what they have voted for, and nothing less. And there are a lot of those people who are very new to the legislative process,” Hoyer said. Compromise “is how our democracy and a free people work. We do not have dictators in this country.”