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POLITICS: PennAve

Rep. Steny Hoyer won't support short-term government spending bills

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The No. 2 House Democrat said he won't support another short-term bill to keep the government funded past mid-January if it sets spending levels at the Republicans' preferred annual rate of $967 billion.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland added that Congress' increasing reliance on stopgap spending bills — called continuing resolutions, or "CRs" — to fund the federal government in lieu of annual appropriations bills shows that the budgeting process on Capitol Hill is "broken."

"I'm deeply disappointed. It's not the way to run government, and I think the American people have made that very clear; they don't think it's the way to run a government," Hoyer said Tuesday during his weekly briefing with reporters.

Federal agencies are being funded through a stopgap bill that expires Jan. 15 — part of a deal that ended a 16-day partial government shutdown in October after Congress failed to pass an annual spending bill for fiscal year 2014, which began Oct. 1.

To keep the government funded past Jan. 15 — and avoid another government shutdown — Congress has two options: pass a funding bill for the rest of the fiscal year, or implement another stopgap measure for a few weeks, a move that would buy lawmakers time to work out a long-term deal.

But Hoyer said a short-term measure that funds the government at the GOP's $967 billion rate, instead of a $1.058 trillion level pushed by many Democrats, would shortchange federal agencies. "I believe that hurts our national security, it hurts our economy and it undermines our responsibility of running government at a level that is productive for our people," he said.

The 2011 Budget Control Act requires that federal spending for the 2014 budget year be capped at $967 billion, a compromise Hoyer and many Democrats supported. Some Republicans have hinted they may be willing to lift the cap if offsetting cuts were made to certain mandatory government programs, such as farm subsidies and Medicare.

Hoyer also accused Republicans of refusing in recent years to compromise with Democrats on key budget issues, a move he suggested has led to gridlock and dysfunction on Capitol Hill.

"The process is broken and …. there is not a positive engagement by our Republican friends," Hoyer said. "Now, having said that let me quickly say that Democrats had CRs too when we were in charge, but that was not the preferred policy.

"We've seen a pattern of Republicans walking way from any kind of budget agreements."

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