House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer urged Congress to push aside the distraction of the November elections and hammer out a bipartisan deficit-reduction plan immediately, saying the country can't wait.
"We must not wait for the next election, and we must not wait for things to get worse for our budget, for American businesses and for American families," Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said during a speech Monday in Washington hosted by the centrist think tank the Third Way.
"There is never a time when the next election is not looming before us — never a moment when we are free from the constraints of our politics. It is not going to get easier to reach an agreement. In fact, it will only get more difficult as time passes and our debt grows," Mr. Hoyer warned.
Mr. Hoyer said lawmakers can't let the failures of recent bipartisan congressional efforts discourage them from continuing to seek a long-term plan. He also dismissed the "conventional wisdom in Washington" that the best window for reaching an agreement is during the lame-duck session after the Nov. 6 congressional and presidential elections.
"The action necessary to reaching a solution requires bipartisan support and a sharing of responsibility for the tough decisions that must be made," he said. "The shared power that now exists provides a unique opportunity to build on the dialogue both sides began last year."
Mr. Hoyer, the House's No. 2 Democrat, added that Congress should act before any unforeseen financial crisis worsens the deficit problem.
"The real issue facing us is whether we can avoid being caught off guard in April or September should the effects of Europe's crisis wash across the Atlantic," he said. "It's whether we can start working on a solution now so we're not unprepared should that occur."
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