House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on Tuesday that he is “worried that the hard-line in the Republican Party seems to be ascendant right now,” which he says is dimming prospects for a deal to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year and avert a shutdown.
“I’m hopeful that we don’t get there -- hopeful that Speaker [John] Boehner and Leader [Eric] Cantor will show the leadership, an ability to move us forward,” Hoyer said, during an appearance at National Journal’s Insiders Conference.
But Boehner said his optimism that a deal can be reached has diminished in recent days, amid reports by National Journal Daily and others that the two top House Republican leaders have retreated from compromise negotiations amid a revolt from tea party-backed Republicans and other conservatives within their own conference.
The pressure on Boehner, R-Ohio, and Cantor, R-Va., is not to budge from insisting on $61 billion in cuts over seven months, which amount to $100 billion in cuts compared to President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget. Such a plan was approved by the House in February, but Senate Democrats have not gone along.
The possibility of a shutdown looms after the April 8 expiration of the current stopgap spending measure. Congress could either pass a measure to fund government for the remainder of the fiscal year, or pass another temporary extension allowing negotiations to continue. But the appetite among lawmakers for another continuing resolution has waned.
“Funding the largest enterprise in the world in two-week stretches is not a rational way to operate -- period,” Hoyer said.
But Hoyer said he is worried now that even this might not happen.
“Very frankly, I think that there is an opportunity for agreement. That agreement ought to be made as most agreements are made between people of differing points of view with a compromise,” he said.
But, he added, “I’m very concerned about the status of the CR and whether or not we’ll be able to pass a continuing resolution, or some sort of omnibus, or combination omnibus and CR, which takes us to September 30.
“Unfortunately, there are a significant number of new people in Congress who believe compromise is a sellout, rather than simply an agreement between differing views.
“The Tea Party is hammering both Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor to $100 billion or nothing,” Hoyer added. “And that’s not going to happen.”