Republican Sen. Jim DeMint is threatening to block a vote in Congress on raising the U.S. debt ceiling unless he wins a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, according to Fox News.
The filibuster threat comes a day after news that GOP leaders had offered private assurances to the White House that they ultimately would vote to raise the $14.3 trillion ceiling, regardless of whether a deal is reached on long-term spending cuts.
"I will oppose any attempt to vote to raise the limit on our $14 trillion debt until Congress passes the balanced-budget amendment," the South Carolina conservative said. He first made the remarks to McClatchy, which his office confirmed to Fox News.
Other Republicans say they just want to see a serious plan for closing the deficit as a condition for support on a debt-limit increase.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla,, said on "Fox News Sunday" that he needs to have "absolute certainty" a deficit reduction plan includes "critical changes."
"Unless we do that, there's no way I'll support it," Coburn said on the debt ceiling increase.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on CNN's "State of the Union," said it's "yet to be determined" whether he would support a filibuster on the debt ceiling vote.
A balanced-budget amendment would prohibit the U.S. government from running a deficit. Such a provision would take a two-thirds vote in Congress, in addition to ratification by the states.
White House spokesman Jay Carney did not address DeMint's threat directly during his briefing with reporters on Monday, but he did say that the "cleanliness" of the bill -- in other words, that there are no policy attachments to it -- is not an issue.
"The issue here is the debt ceiling has to be raised, and it cannot be held hostage to a process that is very complicated and difficult," he said. "We hope we will reach an agreement on deficit reduction -- a bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction within the time frame. We believe that's possible."
All GOP senators already have signed onto a balanced-budget amendment proposal, reviving a push from the mid-'90s -- when the House approved such an amendment, and the Senate fell one vote short of doing the same.
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