House Republican leaders told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday that they will return to Washington during the August recess if the Senate votes to extend all Bush-era tax cuts and stops deep sequestration defense cuts.
The House passed legislation to stop the sequester, which could cost up to a million jobs in the defense sector, back in May. An extension of all tax cuts was passed yesterday, running counter to the earlier passage in the Senate of extending tax cuts only for the lower- and middle-income brackets.
“We write to notify you of our readiness to bring the House back into session in August for the purpose of sending legislation to the president in the event the Senate should follow the House in passing such bills to eliminate these looming threats,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) wrote Reid.
“The defense sequester is, as you know, the result of President Obama’s desire to avoid an additional vote on raising the nation’s debt limit before the presidential election,” they continued. “We passed it reluctantly, at your urging, after receiving a commitment that the president and the Democratic leadership in the Senate would work with Republicans to avert the sequester by enacting a deficit reduction package built on pro-growth tax reform and much-needed changes to strengthen and stabilize our entitlement programs. ”
Obama has brushed off the looming cuts — nearly $500 billion in additional cuts to defense — as something the GOP voted for.
The Republicans noted that the Democrats didn’t make good on their promise to work to avert the sequester.
“If the Senate passes its own package of alternative cuts and reforms to replace the defense sequester, it is our commitment that the House will reconvene to either consider it or to go to conference to produce a consensus package that can be sent to the president for his signature,” states the letter to Reid. “However, in order to avert the threat to our nation’s security that is posed by the defense sequester, the Senate must act. A Senate vote to simply postpone the sequester, rather than replace it with common-sense cuts and reforms, is unworkable and unacceptable.”
Congress leaves Friday for the August recess and doesn’t return until Sept. 10.