Hoyer Clarifies Approps Remarks

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) clarified remarks he made to the Washington Post editorial board meeting Friday morning about a potential budget deal.

The Post reported that Hoyer had said that congressional Democrats were considering a bill that would offer $70 billion in unfettered funds for the Iraq war coupled with $11 billion in added domestic spending that Democrats had championed. The deal would have required concessions from both Democrats and the administration. Democrats would have dropped a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq while President Bush would have allowed increased domestic spending that he had vowed to veto earlier.

The plan enraged the anti-war left over the weekend. Appropriations Chairman David Obey later panned the idea to Roll Call: “I am perfectly willing to lose every dollar on the domestic side of the ledger in order to avoid giving the money for the war without conditions,” Obey said.

At a press briefing Wednesday, a reporter asked Hoyer about his "famous Washington Post editorial breakfast."

"What upset a lot of people the most was not just that you were talking about it," the reporter began, "but that it was the trigger for stories that characterized it as the Democrats...were trading war money for domestic money. Is that how you saw it at that point?"

Hoyer: "Absolutely not. At no time did I ever indicate there was a deal. What I did observe, what I thought was going to happen ?? you will have to wait and see whether my observations were accurate ?? but at no time did I indicate that there was a deal."

"What I did discuss...was that it would make sense, as I've expressed repeatedly as a appropriator, that we had certain priorities, the administration had certain priorities and that those priorities could be compromised."

"I continue to believe that is a reasonable way for the administration and the Congress to try to work together, to effect the work of the American public in the appropriations process."

Another reporter followed up, asking whether Hoyer whether there were "reasonable people sitting down working on agreement," i.e. hashing out a deal along the lines Hoyer described.

After a pause, Hoyer responded, "I can't speak for everybody. If there are, I don't know about it."

At no time was there ever a deal, nor was there a trade-off. And that those priorities could be compromised.

But, in the grand scheme of things, if one side kind of gets what it wants and the other side kind of gets

What I have said is what I think may happen. I have never said there was a deal.