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Boehner: Sequester to stay until Obama agrees to GOP demands

Aug. 1, 2013 at 2:18 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said spending cuts known as the sequester will remain until President Barack Obama agrees to GOP "cuts and reforms."

The sequester -- a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, passed by a vote of 269-161 in the GOP-controlled House -- imposed across-the-board cuts on federal spending after Congress was unable to agree on other deficit reduction measures. The 2011 law allowed the government to raise the statutory debut limit and avoid defaulting on the federal debt.

Federal revenues have been rising during a prolonged recovery from the recession and the deficit has been shrinking in recent months, prompting speculation in Washington it might be possible to lift the sequester -- which opponents say has resulted in harmful cuts to both defense and non-defense programs.

"Sequestration is going to remain in effect until the president agrees to cuts and reforms that will allow us to remove it," Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday. "The president insisted on the sequester none of us wanted. None of us like it. There are smarter ways to cut spending."

Boehner's comment came one day after House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said in a statement "sequestration -- and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts -- must be brought to an end," Roll Call reported.

Rogers' statement came after Republican leaders pulled an appropriations bill funding transportation and housing bill from the House floor before a scheduled vote.

Appropriations committee Republicans said the bill lacked support from moderates who thought it cut too much from programs their constituents favor and hard-line conservatives who thought it didn't cut spending enough, Roll Call said.

Boehner said Thursday the decision to pull the bill was based on scheduling issues, not on concern the measure did not have sufficient GOP votes to pass.

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