House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democrats pressed for further federal spending in infrastructure and education programs at an event modeled after a Congressional hearing Wednesday afternoon.
Invited guests included officials from state and local government, as well as representatives from trade associations and labor unions.
Though Pelosi presided over the proceedings and called witnesses, the event was not technically a hearing since only the majority has the ability to order such events.
Democrats used their function, held while the House was officially in recess, to defend stimulus spending during the previous Congress as essential to preventing a depression. They said an anemic recovery was cause for a continued investment in education, infrastructure, and research programs. "We have to talk about balancing the budget with growth not just with cuts," Pelosi charged, "There should be no higher priority for this Congress than creating jobs now."
One panelist said allocating dollars to fix roads and improve ports should be a non-partisan issue. "There is no Democratic or Republican way to fill a pothole," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D) asserted.
New Jersey Democrat Rob Andrews wasn't so sure, saying that the Republican plan is to "Do some more tax cuts and the potholes will fill themselves."
House Republicans won back the majority in November with a message that reducing federal spending would grow the economy.
Katie Boyd, a spokeswoman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement that the Democrats' economic strategy involves, "calling for another round of more wasteful ‘stimulus' spending and expecting it to create jobs - despite the fact that it has failed to deliver on their promises over the past two years."
According to Boyd, the Republicans are, "Taking steps to stop the job-crushing spending binge and giv(ing) small businesses the certainty they need to create jobs."