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Katko Town Hall

FILE - In this August 2018 photo, U.S. Rep. John Katko answers a question during a town hall meeting in Auburn. 

U.S. Rep. John Katko is accusing House Democrats of caving to the party's progressive caucus after cancelling a vote on a proposal to raise budget caps for defense and non-defense spending in the 2020 fiscal year. 

A resolution approved by the House Budget Committee would raise the defense spending cap to $664 million and the non-defense discretionary spending cap to $631 billion. House Democratic leaders were planning a vote on the measure this week. 

But the vote was canceled after progressive members of the Democratic caucus pushed for a higher non-defense discretionary spending cap. Non-defense discretionary spending covers many programs, including grants for infrastructure projects and schools. 

Progressives want the cap on non-defense discretionary spending to match the proposed defense spending cap of $664 billion. 

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the higher cap is necessary because "many programs that families rely on are under-resourced." 

The progressives' stance forced the vote to be cancelled because House Democratic leaders lacked the support to pass the budget caps measure. 

Katko, R-Camillus, claimed in a statement that House Democrats allowed the progressive members to "hijack the legislative process." 

"While I would have voted 'no' on the proposed bill to lift spending caps without offsetting the cost, it is becoming increasingly concerning that Democrats in the House are punting on the basic obligations of Congress and pandering to the progressive members of the party," he said. 

The challenge facing Democratic leadership, though, is similar to what Republicans experienced when they controlled the House. Like progressives in the Democratic caucus, the more conservative members of the House Republican caucus banded together on legislation, including budget bills and immigration reform proposals. 

In 2018, Katko criticized fellow Republicans for not supporting an immigration proposal. He helped author the plan, which would've provided $25 billion for border security and provided protections for people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. 

Katko also blamed Democrats for the immigration proposal's failure, even though Democrats weren't included in the discussions. 

Now, Katko is taking aim at Democrats for the dispute over the budget caps and what he views as the party's interest in "pursuing far-left policies," such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for all. 

"Instead of yielding to progressive cries to dramatically increase government spending, Democrats should work together with Republicans to produce a bipartisan and fiscally responsible budget to address our nation's growing debt," he said. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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