On the same day that John Boehner told the Senate to get off its ass, he refused to allow the House to vote on a sequester replacement bill.
According to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), “Tonight marks the third time this year that House Republicans have refused to take up a Democratic substitute to the sequester while failing to put forth their own sequester alternative. With 750,000 jobs at stake – not to mention the furlough of hundreds of thousands of federal employees – this is a total abdication of leadership from Speaker Boehner and his caucus.”
Speaker Boehner’s stock line is that the House has already acted, but this is a lie. The House acted in the last Congress. The two bills that were passed in the 112 Congress died as soon as the 113th Congress was sworn in. The House has to pass a sequester replacement bill, but Republicans are refusing to allow Van Hollen’s bill to come to the floor for a vote.
His bill has adopted Obama’s balanced approach. It contains the Buffett Rule, and it cuts subsidies for agribusiness and Big Oil. The bill also contains a 2/3 cuts to 1/3 revenue ratio. Republicans refuse to allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote for one simple reason. They are afraid that it will pass. There are likely enough Republicans that will cross party lines and join with universal Democratic support to pass the bill. The Senate version of Van Hollen’s bill will be passed easily, and Obama would sign it in about a half a second.
If Boehner is serious about avoiding the sequester, why isn’t the House voting on anything? The answer is because Boehner doesn’t have the votes to pass anything. In May, 16 Republicans voted against their own party’s sequester replacement bill. The number of Republican defections jumped to 21 when the Republican sequester replacement option was passed again in December. Republicans currently have a 17 vote majority in the House, so the odds are that Van Hollen’s bill would pass if it came to the floor for a vote.
By refusing to act Boehner is revealing the hypocrisy behind his tough, but empty words. House Republicans have not only embraced the sequester, they are actively working to make sure that it isn’t avoided.
It’s clear that the person who needs to get off his ass in Washington is John Boehner.