House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) struck back Tuesday against House Republicans’ argument that they have compromised in ongoing debt-limit talks with the White House, calling it “extraordinary” for GOP leaders to claim that sitting down at the negotiating table itself is a concession.
“For Mr. Cantor to say that it was a major concession by the Republicans to sit down at the table to discuss getting to an agreement is an extraordinary comment to be made in a democracy,” Hoyer said at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing with reporters. “Clearly, the American public expects us to do just that. That is our job – to try to reach agreement, to make America stronger, healthier, better.”
Hoyer was responding to comments made Monday by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who, when asked what Republicans have compromised in the debt-limit debate thus far, pointed to “the fact that we have been discussing voting for a debt ceiling increase.”
“I don’t think the White House understands how difficult it is for fiscal conservatives to say they are going to vote for a debt ceiling increase,” Cantor said.
As partisan divisions on raising the country’s $14.3 trillion debt limit deepen ahead of a July 22 deadline set by the White House for negotiators to reach a final deal, some Republican leaders have sought to place the debt burden on the shoulders of President Obama and congressional Democrats, arguing that it is Obama who is requesting that Congress raise the debt ceiling.
Hoyer on Tuesday said he rejected the “partisan premise” of that argument, calling the GOP’s rhetoric “absurd” and “dishonest.”
“Nobody is going to increase the debt limit for somebody else other than the country,” Hoyer said. “We are not sitting down on the creditworthiness of the United States of America as if that’s what we get, the president gets, Democrats get, and that in return we are supposed to agree to something that we may or may not agree with.”
He added that “the contention by the Republicans -- and (House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan) in particular -- that somehow this is the Democrats’ debt, in point of fact, almost every honest economist and observer points out that the debt that we are confronting has largely been incurred under Republican administrations.”
Hoyer, Cantor and other congressional leaders will sit down at the White House at 3:45 p.m. for their latest negotiating session on the debt ceiling.