House Speaker Steven Tilley told reporters he feels no obligation to live up to the deal struck in the Senate which ended a filibuster blocking benefits to long-time unemployed Missourians.
Tilley, during a news availability with the Capitol Press Corps, said that President Pro Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) informed him of the deal he reached with Sen. Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis) on the unemployment measure. Lembke has led a group of four senators who have refused to yield so that Missouri could receive $105 million in federal funds to finance benefits for long-time unemployed Missourians. They have asserted that by taking the money, Missouri would in effect be supporting deficit spending by the federal government. Mayer agreed to support cutting $250 million from economic stimulus funding contained in HB 18 which has yet to pass the House.
“I’m not prepared to make any commitments on the additional $200 and some million worth of cuts,” Tilley told reporters.
Tilley, a Republican from Perryville, said there is general agreement among the House leadership on the compromise reached on the unemployment benefits bill. That is the extent of the agreement. Tilley said the House cannot be obligated to a deal reached without its input.
“That was a deal that did not include the House,” Tilley stated.
Tilley said he’s not worried about threats that if the House doesn’t comply, the Senate could kill some House legislation.
“If they want to bring things to a halt then they’re going to have to deal with that,” according to Tilley. “So, no, I’m not going to be held hostage on legislation.”
Tilley said Mayer might have reached a deal with the filibustering senators, but he might have failed to include all the parties necessary to making the deal stick.
“He may have made a deal that he can’t be able to fulfill his part of the bargain,” Tilley said.
Tilley said it makes no sense to return federal stimulus money if it’s only going to be spent by another state. He said he will discuss the issue with House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) before making a decision on how to proceed, but believes the House will send the federal stimulus budget bill to the Senate without the cuts, setting up negotiations between the Senate and House.