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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If you believe Steny H. Hoyer, the government could be headed toward a shutdown.

The House minority whip told reporters Tuesday morning that as long as the sequester is kept in place, he would vote “no” on a continuing resolution at the current funding level of $988 billion.

“I think we’re going to have a fight,” Hoyer said. “I think we ought to have a fight now rather than later.”

“Frankly,” the Maryland Democrat added, a short-term CR that goes to Nov. 15 or Dec. 15 doesn’t make sense.

That’s a major break from the rhetoric of the White House and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, who does not appear to have ruled out the idea of passing a short, clean CR that doesn’t shut down the government.

But Hoyer maintained that the shorter the term of the CR, “the more disruption the economy, the more traumatic for the people working for the government.”

“I’m more interested in addressing it now,” Hoyer said. “I think there are enough Republicans that aren’t terrified of the tea party, and we can get a bipartisan agreement.”

Hoyer said “the problem with clean $988” billion is that, come Jan. 15, it becomes $967 billion — the fiscal 2014 level of funding prescribed and mandated by the sequester.

The Maryland Democrat said $988 billion is “a Republican number.”

“So this is no compromise for them,” he said.

Hoyer also said the current battle over the CR and a government shutdown was looking worse than 1995 — when the government shut down for 28 days into early 1996.

“I’ve been there,” Hoyer said, adding that the 1995 GOP, under the control of Speaker Newt Gingrich, was “not nearly as radical.”

“I talk to Republicans all the time who are shaking their heads at the irrationality of some of the people in their conference,” he said. “I’m not going to name names because, why should I start that fight? But there’s no doubt in my mind that there are a significant number and, perhaps, a majority of Republicans, who agree with Hal Rogers.”

Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who wields the gavel on the Appropriations Committee, said as recently as late July that “sequestration — and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts — must be brought to an end.”

Hoyer not-so-subtly reminded reporters of those remarks at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing by passing out sheets of papers with Rogers’ statement and showing the quote on large TVs.

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