House Democrats said Tuesday they would not participate in the supercommitteelike group suggested by House Republicans as a way to negotiate and end the stalemate that has partially shut down the federal government for eight days.
“Why participate in something you don’t need to do?” Rep. Xavier Becerra, California Democrat, said. “We could pass both a budget, and we can get America’s bills paid if we just do what Ronald Reagan and others have done, and that is stop using extortion to try to get your way on a social agenda the American people didn’t agree with in the first place.”
Mr. Becerra, who was a member of the first supercommittee to solve the budget in 2011, said that there was “nothing super about it” and that it lead to further sequestration budget cuts.
Joined by other Democratic leaders of the House, Mr. Becerra called for Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, to allow the House to vote on a “clean” continuing resolution and debt-ceiling deal, saying there are enough Democratic and Republican votes to pass the measure.
“We’re paid to make progress; we’re paid to help businesses put people to work. We’re not paid to shut down the government; we’re not paid to default on our past obligations and put our economy and every American family’s pocketbook at risk,” he said.
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Virginia Democrat, said the responsibility for the shutdown falls on Mr. Boehner, not tea party Republicans who have taken the toughest stand against a deal.
“He’s in charge, and he has … enabled, if not encouraged, this reckless behavior, and it’s time for him to lead,” Mr. Connolly said.
Looking past the government shutdown, Rep. Joseph Crowley, New York Democrat, spoke about the next financial crisis that will need to be handled by Congress — raising the debt ceiling by Oct. 17.
“The last time we were in this predicament two years ago, it was as if my Republican colleagues were playing with matches. And now they’re playing with a blowtorch,” he said. “They know exactly what they’re doing.”
Mr. Crowley also called for Congress to end the uncertainty hanging over the U.S. and global economies and to stop fabricating fiscal disasters.
“There are so many other issues we need to be concentrating on that we’re neglecting because of these man-made fiscal disasters,” he said.