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October 1st, 2013
06:52 PM ET

Democratic congressman: Not taking a paycheck is another GOP game

House Republicans are cooking up piecemeal funding bills, offering to partially re-open the government by putting forward bills that would reopen programs for veterans and federal parks. The White House said the proposals are not serious, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said House Democrats would not be willing to go along either.

"This is a game," said Hoyer, saying Republicans do not have a strategy.

"They shut down the government. They think that gives them leverage to accomplish what they couldn't accomplish in the election, and it's harmful to the American people," said Hoyer.

Congressman Ron DeSantis, R-Florida, one of the Republicans pushing this piecemeal strategy, told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" that members of Congress should forego salaries during the government shutdown.

"That's another game they want to play, appealing to a demagogue approach to this," said Hoyer. "The members of Congress ought to be on the job working hard, getting this job done for the American people, getting the government opened, getting federal employees back to work."

"All of these extrinsic side issues they want to bring up which they think are politically salient miss the point of their irresponsibility in shutting down government," said Hoyer.

Democrats, and specifically President Barack Obama, are at least partially responsible for Americans not fearing a government shutdown as much they did back in 1995. Earlier this year, there were many dire warnings about what would happen in the event of a budget sequester, or automatic, across-the-board cuts to government agencies. But then the sequester came, and ultimately people did not see the horrific results that had been predicted.

"Today, there was the slamming of door. There wasn't the slamming of door when the sequester hit. The sequester is a drip, drip, drip, undermining the operations of government, and the strength of our country, and the growth of our economy," said Hoyer.

"But I think the American people know that playing games with government operations is not what they expect from their Congress. They don't believe it's responsible," said Hoyer.

The Republicans argue they keep coming to the table with less demands, and Democrats just say no. One provision in the latest House bill would repeal the Obamacare tax on medical devices, a move that had majority, bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate.

Why not just give them that, and move on?

"Let them put a bill on the floor to repeal the medical tax, and let's vote on it, and move it to the Senate in the regular order," said Hoyer. "Don't lard up the funding of the government, one of the most basic responsibilities that the Congress of the United States has."

For more of our interview with Congressman Steny Hoyer, watch the video above.

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