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Boehner Working to Avoid a Government Shutdown

February 26, 2013

Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) -- House Speaker John Boehner said the U.S. House won’t act to replace automatic federal spending cuts until the Senate "gets off their ass" and passes a plan.

Boehner also accused President Barack Obama of using the military as a "prop" to campaign for a tax increase in the debate over across-the-board spending reductions that will take effect starting March 1.

"If the Senate acts, I’m sure the House will act quickly," Boehner told reporters in Washington today. Boehner said Obama isn’t "focused" on finding a solution to averting the reductions.

The cuts will reduce spending by $85 billion in the final seven months of this fiscal year and by $1.2 trillion over the next nine years. Half of the reductions will affect defense spending, while the rest will be spread over other federal agencies. Obama and Democrats want to replace part of the cuts with higher tax revenue, while Republicans oppose more taxes.

The House passed its proposal to avert the spending cuts last year, and the measure expired when the last session of Congress ended in early January.

"We have moved a bill in the House twice; we should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something," Boehner said.

‘Wasn’t Real’

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said the House’s action last year "wasn’t real" because Republicans realized the legislation wouldn’t pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

This year, House Republicans "have failed to have a single piece of legislation put on the floor" to replace the spending cuts, said Hoyer of Maryland.

Michigan Representative Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said his party is sticking to its demand for more tax revenue as part of a deal to replace the spending reductions.

"The president isn’t going to give way," Levin told reporters and editors at a Bloomberg Government event today. "It’s unsustainable to do it simply through cuts in programs."

Levin predicted that economic fallout from the cuts, including a potential stock market reaction, will ultimately force a deal to replace them.

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