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Hoyer Backs Emergency Spending; Boehner Questions Timing

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer lent his support Sunday to President Barack Obama’s call for Congress to pass an emergency aid package to help spur state and local small-business hiring.

But Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who appeared with the Maryland Democrat on ABC’s “This Week,” noted that the issue was not raised during a bipartisan meeting of Congressional leaders at the White House on Thursday and said Obama’s request “strikes me as different.”

“To send this letter up here on a Saturday night with no opportunity to cut spending elsewhere in the budget strikes me as a little different,” Boehner said of Obama’s letter to Congressional leaders requesting the approval of an estimated $50 billion emergency package to stem layoffs of firefighters, police officers and schoolteachers.

Hoyer said he urged the White House to consider releasing unspent funds from last year’s economic stimulus law, but he maintained that “the president is absolutely right that this is critical spending, and we need to get on it.”

“I personally believe that if we have dollars that are not yet expended in the recovery act that we can apply to this immediate need, and then look to later expenditures in the long term for investments, I think we ought to do that,” Hoyer added. “But we can’t — we can’t stimulate and depress at the same time.” Hoyer did not indicate a timeline for taking up the proposal.

Boehner also reiterated his criticism that House Democrats have yet to produce a budget resolution this year. Hoyer said he “would hope” his caucus could get one under way, even though some in his party have signaled that it may be a heavy lift in an already rough election year.

White House adviser David Axelrod said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the proposed emergency spending package is part of a continued push to bolster the economy, adding that it includes a small-business lending package that the House and Senate might consider in the coming weeks.

“It’s clear we’re not out of the woods and we have to keep working at this,” Axelrod said, adding that “state governments are lagging.”

But in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) dismissed the administration’s economic policies, which he asserted have not helped to lower the nation’s 10 percent unemployment rate.

“The economic policies of this administration and this Congress are failing to put America back to work,” he said.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn responded by making a plea for bipartisanship.

“I would wish that all of us would get on board with some bipartisan approaches to trying to get our economy stabilized” and “look to the future with a little more compassion and bipartisanship,” the South Carolina Democrat said.

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