Leaders are keenly aware of the fact that simply eliminating the sequester could result in a credit downgrade for the country. Additionally, it would more generally demonstrate Congress’ inability to hold itself accountable.
But interest in finding a way to change the makeup of the sequester to protect defense spending is growing.
“Obviously, with the collapse of the super committee, we have got an opportunity to maintain the fiscal discipline and allow the cuts to stay in place, but there is another way,” Cantor said. “There is, I think, another way to accomplish the cuts to ensure that our veterans and what they stand for isn’t affected in a disproportionate way.”
In a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) argued that passage of unemployment insurance extension, the doc fix and payroll tax cut were critical to the country’s economic recovery.
“Independent economists from across the political spectrum estimate that failure to pass these essential pieces of legislation could reduce economic growth by — as much as 2 percentage points next year,” the Democratic leaders wrote.
This article updates the print version to clarify House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stance on the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment insurance.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.