U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and 44 freshmen House Democrats wrote a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner on Thursday requesting an up-or-down vote on the fate of the sequester, the $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts.
The cuts went into effect on March 1 after President Obama and Congress could not agree on a deficit reduction plan.
The Democrats sent the letter to Boehner on the same day that House Republicans approved U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's bill calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's health care overhaul law.
"This week, the House will vote on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which it has already done thirty-six times. Your justification for another unnecessary repeal vote has been that it allows freshmen members their first formal opportunity to let their constituents know where they stand on the repeal. However, you have not allowed freshmen the same opportunity to vote on a balanced alternative to replace sequestration," the letter read in part.
"With the sequester's negative impact already taking its toll, we ask that you move quickly to schedule these votes. All of us are ready to come to the Floor and make our constituents' voices heard with regard to sequestration and its potential to harm our economic recovery and our national security."
Nolan signed the letter with House Democratic freshmen, but he previously served three terms in Congress from 1975 to 1981.
Here's a copy of the letter:
After President Obama met with House Democrats on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan said he is "cautiously optimistic" that lawmakers and the White House can reach compromise on the nation's fiscal issues.
It was Obama's third day of meetings on Capitol Hill this week with lawmakers from both parties to discuss budgets, deficit reduction gun control and immigration. Obama met with Senate Republicans before his session with House Democrats
Nolan said Obama discussed closing tax loopholes and reforming entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
"He made a very compelling case for a balanced approach to this budget," said Nolan, who represents the state's Seventh District.
Several news organizations, including Politico, have cited White House Chief of Staff and Minnesota native Denis McDonough as the driving force behind Obama's outreach to members of Congress as the administration seeks to broker agreements on a range of issues.
The effort hasn't yielded immediate returns. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, proposed a budget plan that would slash spending for programs that Democrats want to preserve and rescind funding for the Affordable Care Act, Obama's health care reform law.
Obama met House Republicans on Wednesday. Nolan said it is incumbent upon Republicans, who control the lower chamber, to work with the president.
"He's making a good effort to get everybody in the Congress involved," Nolan said. "Until there's some movement on their part ... it's going to be difficult to reach any kind of agreement."