WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following today in an effort to set the record straight in the face of Republicans spinning themselves into a fury to justify their remarkable turnaround on the motion to instruct on the fiscal year 2004 budget yesterday:
“Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA) and House Republicans almost outdid themselves yesterday. When debate on the Democratic Motion to Instruct conferees on the Budget Resolution began yesterday, Chairman Nussle railed against it, charging that it somehow implied that Democrats were not committed to eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in government. In fact, our Motion instructed conferees to reject the draconian funding cuts in the GOP Budget Resolution for Medicare and Medicaid, education, veterans’ benefits, railroad retirees’ pensions, aid for working families and the disabled, and agriculture.
In strongly opposing the Democratic Motion, here’s how Chairman Nussle kicked off the Republican side of the debate:
‘[C]ertainly the Minority has an opportunity to come down here and make this motion. It really shows your cards. It shows that you do not really have a concern about some of these programs and their usefulness, finding the waste and the fraud and abuse within our Federal government.’”
GOP: Oops, We Support Your Motion After All
“But just moments after Chairman Nussle’s impassioned plea opposing the Motion, Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) came to the House Floor and, lo and behold, he falsely claimed that the Motion would support $1.2 trillion in tax cuts and freeze spending for key domestic programs. And thus, Majority Leader DeLay announced, he would support the Motion after all! ‘I am going to look at it a little closer,’ he said, ‘but I just might vote for this Motion to Instruct because I, for the first time, am noticing that the Democrats are suggesting that we have a [$1.2 trillion] tax relief package.’
Then, in an unmitigated flip-flop, Chairman Nussle announced that he too would support the Motion that he had strongly opposed just moments before. ‘[I]f the Majority Leader is interested in this, I certainly would be willing to consider agreeing to the motion,’ he said.
Did House Republicans really see the light? Whatever provoked this 180-degree about-face? In fact, the Republican flip-flop came after the GOP leadership realized that 20 or more of their Members would vote for the Democratic Motion, handing the GOP an embarrassing defeat. Many Republicans decided that they simply could not vote to cut veterans’ benefits, education, Medicaid and Medicare, and other crucial programs – a stunning repudiation of the House Republican Budget Resolution that narrowly passed the House, 215-212, on March 28.
In the end, the GOP leadership put a brave face on and claimed victory in the face of defeat. Democrats and Republicans – even Chairman Nussle – voted for the motion, which passed 399 to 22.”