House Republicans to Press Conservative Debt Stance

Monday, 18 Jul 2011 11:56 AM

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Conservative voters might be happy to learn that House Republicans are proposing a new debt limit bill that includes markedly hawkish provisions.

The plan, which will be presented on the House floor Tuesday, represents a far cry from anything offered by Democrats. It entails just a $2.4 trillion increase for the debt limit, which now stands at $14.3 trillion.

In addition, it requires spending cuts of $1.8 trillion from non-defense appropriations over the next 10 years and a balanced budget amendment. The amendment strictly limits any future potential for Congress to raise taxes.

Although the bill will attract little to no support from Democrats in the House and will be dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate, House Republicans feel good about mounting a stand for conservative principles.

“At least we will have demonstrated we can pass legislation to deal with the debt ceiling and put the onus on the Senate to act,” Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., told Politico.

Key Republicans say votes on hawkish plans are necessary before the GOP can start making compromises with Democrats that actually can solve the crisis.

In the Senate, Republican members are split over Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s idea to give President Barack Obama authority to raise the debt limit without prior congressional approval of budget cuts. McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are working out details for the plan.

For now, Republican senators agree on a hawkish blueprint to hike the debt limit ceiling only after Congress passes a balanced budget amendment for the Constitution, puts a knife to domestic spending, and caps future outlays, says Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl. That’s the “cut, cap, and balance” plan.

But Democrats in the Senate won’t support that proposal. So once it fails this week, both parties will gravitate toward the McConnell-Reid plan, Kyl said on “This Week” on ABC Sunday.

“That’s what the Senate is proceeding with . . . At the end of the day, I don’t think there will be a default.”

But conservative Republican senators aren’t so pleased with the McConnell-Reid effort — Florida’s Marco Rubio and Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn, to name two.

“The way the deal is currently structured right now . . . it gives the president the ability to raise the debt limit, but as I’ve said already, the debt limit’s not really the problem here. The problem is the debt,” Rubio told “Face the Nation” on CBS.

“I don’t believe this plan, as it’s been outlined to me, is a credible solution to our debt problem.”

Coburn said on the program that he also is unlikely to back the plan. “I am only going to support something that actually solves the problem — and not the political problem,” he said. “If it doesn't solve the policy problem for this country, I am not going to support it.”

Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, expressed their opposition to the proposal last week.

“It basically says you can raise the debt limit, but we don’t have to vote for it,” DeMint said on the Scott Hennen radio show. “It’s like leaving the jail door open and looking the other way, then saying it’s not our fault.”

House Republicans aren’t jumping for joy over the bipartisan effort either. “The McConnell plan doesn’t have 218 Republican votes — no way,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“There are all kinds of conservatives in the Republican Study Committee in the House conference who will not support the plan.”

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