House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is looking to shake legislative politics out of unconsciousness as early as this spring, and force a vote on a bipartisan legislative proposal – which would include higher taxes and cuts to federal programs — to reduce deficits by trillions of dollars over the coming years.
The push is intended to disrupt the consensus among most political leaders that Congress will punt budget consolidation efforts until after November — when the election returns are in, and the January 1, 2013 expiry of the Bush tax cuts and deep across-the-board spending cuts make real action inevitable.
In a speech hosted Monday morning by Third Way, Hoyer revealed that he and other lawmakers are looking for the right moment to introduce a bill that would achieve the sorts of deficit reduction goals that have eluded Congress and the White House thus far.“Members of both parties, and on both sides of the Capitol, are working to ensure that the next time we find ourselves at an impasse — which could be sooner, rather than later — we will be ready, with a legislative package in hand to address our debt and deficit in a comprehensive, long-term way,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer declined to discuss the specifics of this bill, but suggested it would deal with spending and tax policies of all kinds. He and his colleagues face one key problem: there’s a lot of white space on the legislative calendar this year, and that means they’ll have a hard time leveraging unwilling members into action.
If, however, he can get members of both parties to vote in significant numbers for this bill — including broad Republican support for higher taxes — it would have significant implications for both Congressional elections, and the ultimate policy direction the government takes when it ultimately does lock in a deficit reduction plan.
Asked for further details, Hoyer said to look for developments in weeks, not months.
“There is ongoing work…to put concrete proposals to paper in legislative form, so that as I said there will be an opportunity to offer those proposals,” Hoyer said. “Obviously you want to create a large consensus for that before you offer it so that its defeat is, if defeated, temporary only and not undermining of what the objective is, and that is getting a big, bold, balanced plan adopted.”
Hoyer went on, “There is work ongoing and I expect that work to be largely completed before the budget is offered.”