Tags: balance | budget | debt | ceiling

Conservative Groups: Balance the Budget Before Raising Debt Ceiling

Friday, 03 May 2013 10:35 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Conservative groups are demanding lawmakers pass a balanced-budget plan before increasing the nation's debt ceiling, as President Barack Obama continues to insist that he will not tie debt negotiations to other issues.

The nation will hit the current $16.4 trillion debt ceiling on May 19. The Treasury Department is expected to avoid defaulting on payment obligations when the deadline expires.

But the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, and other conservative groups are trying to force lawmakers to establish a path to balancing a budget within 10 years before they address the nation's borrowing limit, reports The Hill.

House GOP leaders already have indicated they want to tie tax reform and additional spending limits to debt-limit negotiations, something Obama says he will not negotiate. The president has said he made a mistake in 2011 when congressional Republicans forced him to accept dollar-for-dollar cuts in the federal budget over 10 years in exchange for raising the debt ceiling by $2.1 billion.

The Club made similar demands in January during the debt-ceiling discussions. At that time, the Senate and Obama accepted a bill that included withholding lawmakers' pay if each chamber failed to produce a budget. The deal led to the first Senate-passed budget in four years, the Hill noted.

"House conservatives agreed to the 'No Budget, No Pay' solution in January in exchange for promises the House 2014 budget would balance within 10 years, that the sequester would be allowed to go into effect unless replaced only with spending cuts, and that GOP leaders would try to use the next debt-ceiling increase to get the House budget adopted," The Hill reported Thursday.

Conservatives refer to the agreement as the Williamsburg Accord, following its approval at the January conference of Republican lawmakers in Williamsburg, Va.

"That was the expectation coming out of Williamsburg . . . to fight to enact policies that put us on path to 10-year balance," Dan Holler of Heritage Action told The Hill. He said  conservative groups plan to keep up the pressure on House GOP leaders in the coming weeks to hold the course on balancing the budget first before tackling the debt ceiling.

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