Top House Democrat equivocates over cutting own pay in event of sequester
February 12th, 2013
03:12 PM ET
8 years ago

Top House Democrat equivocates over cutting own pay in event of sequester

Washington (CNN) – The number two House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, is "not absolutely positive" that the automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to go into effect will actually happen, but as his office prepares for their potential impact, he doesn't think cutting his own pay is the way to absorb the budget cuts.

"If I take a pay cut frankly that won't help our national defense that won't help our domestic investments. It won't help the economy," Hoyer said at his weekly session with reporters on Capitol Hill.

The so-called "sequester" was the enforcement mechanism added to budget deal in the summer of 2011 to force Congress to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit. If it fails to do so spending cuts will kick in next month affecting all government agencies, including the legislative branch.

Asked about a top defense official's pledge on Tuesday in a Senate hearing to cut his own pay if military salaries are cut, Hoyer said, "That's fine. It's symbolic."

But Hoyer said he is "hopeful that we avoid the sequester," and he urged GOP leaders to bring up legislation to replace the across the board cuts.

House Speaker John Boehner and other top GOP leaders argue that they have already passed two bills to replace the across the board cuts, but both of those measures passed in the last Congress so they are essentially moot now. Congressional Republicans continue to press for President Obama and Senate Democrats to present their own detailed plan to avoid the scheduled spending cuts that will begin to go into effect at the beginning of March.

The Maryland Democrat said he wanted to avoid furloughing or cutting staff, saying "I think that's an irrational policy and we're going to have to make cuts, but whether or not we'll do so by furloughs is another issue."

Hoyer's suburban Washington D.C. district includes a significant number of federal employees. He said his granddaughter, whose husband is a federal employee, asked him whether federal workers would be forced to take unpaid leave to make up for government agencies' budget cuts. He told reporters he hoped that wouldn't be the case and argued federal workers were "the only people who have been asked so far to reduce spending."

House Republicans scheduled a vote for later this week on legislation that would freeze federal worker's pay for another year. Hoyer said it's not appropriate for federal workers alone to bear the brunt of reducing the deficit. Like other Democrats, he said it should be a mix of spending cuts and revenue.

Hoyer said it was "dead flat wrong" for Republicans to blame President Obama for the series of automatic cuts that are scheduled to go into place at the beginning of March.

The number two Democrat argued that Congressional Republicans are now calling for major spending cuts and dramatic changes to federal programs, but when then President George W. Bush was President Congressional Republicans "set off on spending binge in which they paid for nothing."


Filed under: Congress • Steny Hoyer
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. much thunder.little rain

    ..no wonder the dems cant win the house...plus with nancy and debbie..no room for moderates...miss ross and schuler...

    February 12, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Name lynn

    Democrates we the people know you are behind obama, an you all is for the poor people, but the stupid republicans is for the rich people an they are greedy an bald head

    February 12, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    ......cut not only pay but also all the BENIFITS too, esply Healthcare.

    February 12, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. freedom

    Mitt Romney would have served as president with no salary – as he did when he ran the Olympics and was Governor of Massachusetts. We know how willing Obama and his wife are to forfeit their trips to Hawaii in the most luxurious properties – democrats have big mouths and don't put the money where their mouths are –

    February 12, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. AceRyder

    Taxing the rich won't help either, yet he was for that?

    February 12, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    There is a difference between a pay cut and deferred pay. Whether they get paid now or later, they must and will still get paid. The bill that the Tea Party House passed was a juvenile stunt, which they hope most people don't realize was never signed into law.

    February 12, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. blake

    Actually massive pay cuts to members of Congress will help tremendously. It will send a message to those morons in Congress that they need to take our $1 trillion annual overspending and our $16 trillion debt seriously.

    February 12, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. tinykhan

    BS BS BS...I am a federal govt employee, and if you put me on furlough because you cannot do your job, damn right you do not deserve to be paid.

    February 12, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  9. empresstrudy

    Who cares? It won't make any difference anyway. We need to buy more fiddles for when Rome burns.

    February 12, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Cutting pay in the middle of session violates the CONSTITUTION. Thanks to CNN and the MSM, that fact is being swept under the table in favor of he-said-she-said circle-jerk bobblehead punditry.

    February 12, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    Changing congresscritter pay mid-session = UNCONSTITUTIONAL. It's not even a matter of interpretation...it is EXPLICITLY FORBIDDEN. I'm sorry that fact is inconvenient to the GOP/Teatrolls and to CNN's manufactured controversy narrative, but that's too bad. You may now return to your regularly scheduled misinformation and whitewashing of GOP/Teatroll behavior.

    IOKIYAR

    February 12, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    Changing congresscritter pay mid-session = explicitly forbidden by the Constitution. It's not even remotely arguable or a mater of "interpretation." The language is clearer than the grain alcohol Boehner pours over his Cheerios.

    February 12, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  13. critical thinking

    If you cut his pay by 50% you would still be overpaying for his services.

    February 12, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. Larry L

    By law we must pay the Congress. Still, we can PAY THEM BACK starting in 2014 by voting out those unwilling to compromise towards a rational budget. Make no mistake – I'll talking about Tea Party Republicans who continually hold the American people hostage in their attempts to appease the right-wing radicals controlling the Republican Party.

    February 12, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Nice but...

    Mr. Hoyer should see this as it is: a punishment for not being part of the solution and leadership failure among all leaders in both the House, Senate, and WH.

    February 12, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    AceRyder

    Taxing the rich won't help either, yet he was for that?
    ----------------
    It's not all about "taxing the rich". It's called balancing the budget. The Bush economic policies, including his *temporary* tax cut, dramtically unbalanced the annual budget. That fact is undeniable, which is why Bush promised that was only a temporary rate change "to stimulate growth and prosperity."

    The Bush Tax Cuts accounted for half of the debt that we've added over the last four years. At the time when they were passed, predictions were made by Bush's own economic advisor that they would lead to trillion dollar annual deficits within a decade. The prediction has proven to be accurate.

    February 12, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. Larry

    You obviously think if I take a pay cut it will help!

    February 12, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  18. John

    As a state employee who's had nothing but 0% raises and pay cuts for YEARS now, I wish he felt this way about my income! And before the last 6 years or so, I haven't had a decent (i.e. 4% or better) raise since 2001. Working for government is terrible. I will guide my daughter away from it, and I recommend you all do the same for your kids.

    February 12, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. RR

    The pay cut is all smoke. It doesn't mean a thing because Congress will get their money anyway, if not now then later. This stunt was designed to fool individuals who said they should not get paid if they don't do their job in Washington D.C. What a load of crap!

    February 12, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. Ray E. (Georgia)

    It is amazing of how things have gotten out of hand over the last 75 Plus years. We don't need the Congress in Session 365 says a year where they work maybe 60. Return all Social Programs back to the States where the people in each state can decide if they want to keep them or not and put the congress on limited fees for the 60 days, when they need to be in session. State legistrators usually are in session 60 days. That is enough for congress in most instances.

    February 12, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    freedom wrote:

    Mitt Romney would have served as president with no salary – as he did when he ran the Olympics and was Governor of Massachusetts. We know how willing Obama and his wife are to forfeit their trips to Hawaii in the most luxurious properties – democrats have big mouths and don't put the money where their mouths are –
    -----------------–
    I have a better idea. Let's cut the annual subsidies to the oil companies. That loop hole alone costs more than the salaries of every member of Congress and their staffs combined. Okay?

    February 12, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    Meanwhile, the GOP/Teatrolls think the only people who should really be taking a "pay cut" are people receiving SS and Medicare/caid....

    February 12, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "It is amazing of how things have gotten out of hand over the last 75 Plus years. We don't need the Congress in Session 365 says a year where they work maybe 60. Return all Social Programs back to the States where the people in each state can decide if they want to keep them or not and put the congress on limited fees for the 60 days, when they need to be in session. State legistrators usually are in session 60 days. That is enough for congress in most instances."

    Aaaaaaaand, thank you for an example of why we can't have a rational discussion with the GOP/Teatrolls.

    February 12, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  24. WiredweirdinSF

    Will the good old CNN Fact Checker finally show up toight or will CNN engage in another Obama love fest and not report the truth about what he is saying. That is how he got reelected.

    February 12, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. Shem

    That would be so nice to cut their pay just like happens in the real world but I doubt seriously it will happen. We won't get that lucky. The US will borrow and spend with abandon until the time that it is no longer feasible. The question is when that time will come...

    February 12, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
1 2