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Hispanic Caucus Questions GOP Budget Bill

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus take part in a news conference Wednesday criticizing House Republicans’ budget bill.

“It’s not as if we can’t say this has not become a practice,” Becerra said. “Whether at the federal or the state level, Republicans have made it very clear how they perceive Latinos and what they think the policy should be toward them, whether it’s this extremely harsh and unfair cut that hits Latinos in Puerto Rico ... or the efforts to impose English as the official language.”

Republicans argue they are pushing the House to get the economy back on track and create jobs, which benefits all Americans, including Hispanics.

They also fault President Barack Obama for not leading on the spending issue.

“We have $15 trillion in debt, $1.4 [or] $1.3 trillion in annual deficits under this administration the last four years, jobs bleeding away from the country, health care challenged, no energy plan that makes any sense at all for the economy or the American people,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a member of the Budget Committee, which approved the bill Monday on a party-line vote.

“The best stimulus, the best Medicaid assistance is a paycheck,” Price said. “This administration fails to recognize that, and we are trying to correct it.”

The House package is needed because the law requires $1.2 trillion in cuts, including a $600 billion reduction in defense spending, which would take place over 10 years.

Republicans, who believe the Pentagon cannot absorb the cuts without compromising national security, want to replace the $109 billion in defense cuts set to begin next year under the sequester. They would do so by cutting $261 billion over the next decade, including cuts to a raft of programs to help the poor and elderly, as well as rolling back provisions in the Democrats’ signature health care reform law and raising pension contribution requirements for federal workers.

House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said he plans to ask the Rules Committee to allow him to offer a substitute amendment to the House bill.

The Democratic substitute would replace the cuts by requiring that millionaires pay at least a 30 percent tax, eliminating oil and gas tax breaks and other provisions.

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