Republicans expressed disappointment Wednesday at what they said was the slow pace of fiscal talks and began making plans to extend the postelection session through the holidays.
Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky said party leaders at a meeting of the GOP caucus warned members the House would “be here for a long time” because the White House was not agreeing to deeper, specific spending cuts.
“They told us not to make any plans before or after Christmas,” said John Shimkus of Illinois.
Participants said House Speaker John A. Boehner, who spoke by phone late Tuesday with President Barack Obama, provided few details of the state of the negotiations.
Boehner gave them a handout showing a side-by-side comparison of the original White House and House GOP offers from last week.
“We’ve got some serious differences,” Boehner told reporters after the caucus meeting, referring to Obama.
Senior GOP aides said the Ohio Republican and his team were sticking to their call for raising $800 billion in tax revenue. “800 is halfway between zero and 1.6. That sounds fair,” said one GOP aide, referring to Obama’s original target for new tax revenue.
Shimkus and Cory Gardner of Colorado said they believed Obama was moving “in the wrong direction” because the new $1.4 trillion tax revenue target was not closer to the $800 billion figure that was in the near-deal reached by Boehner and Obama.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia announced the plan to be in session next week in a floor colloquy last week, but the change in plan was not widely disseminated among rank-and-file members. The announcement Wednesday that members would need to return to Washington next week sparked complaints by some members as they left the closed door meeting.
Cantor’s office is expected to put out a schedule for next week by Thursday.
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.