Debt Limit Plans Pit House Republicans Against Senate Leadership
House Republicans are planning on throwing its Tea Party base a bone today by voting on what is known as the “cut, cap and balance” debt limit plan. However, the largely symbolic bill is already dead on arrival in the Senate and the White House is eagerly waving its veto pen.
Meanwhile, some members of what was formally known as the bipartisan “gang of six” are formulating a plan to present to about 40 to 50 senators today in an effort to find a workable solution both sides can present to the White House.
But not so fast – Republicans in the House are trying to kill a plan being worked on by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that would make it easier for the President to raise the debt ceiling and call for spending cuts over 10 years.
Republicans in the House, especially those recently elected, are not comfortable in putting their political futures or their campaign promises in the hands of a Democrat President seeking reelection.
Today’s House vote would allow the government to borrow another $2.4 trillion, but only after a series of immediate spending cuts are implemented and Congress adopts a constitutional amendment requiring the federal budget to be balanced.
“Cut, cap and balance” supporters say the measure is almost identical to a budget passed by the House in April that cut $111 billion from government over the next fiscal year that begins in October and another $6 trillion over the next 10 years by tying the reductions to the overall size of the economy.
The kicker in the plan would still require Congress to approve a balanced budget amendment as a condition to increase the debt. Democrats have always resisted a balanced budget amendment since it limits their ability to increase entitlement and pork programs.
Interestingly, Senator McConnell has swung behind the measure saying, “Not only is this legislation just the kind of thing Washington needs right now, it may be the only option we have if you want to see the debt limit raised at all.”
While McConnell is displaying his support for the House plan, Republicans in the lower chamber are not nearly as eager to support the plan McConnell and Reid are working on. In fact, they are working tirelessly to bury it.
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) circulated a letter to his House colleagues Monday urging Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) not to bring McConnell’s proposal to the House floor.
“On behalf of the millions of Americans we represent, we strongly urge you to both publicly oppose Senator McConnell’s plan to raise the debt ceiling and ensure it never comes to the House floor for a vote,” the letter states. “The McConnell Plan punts on our duty as Members of the United States Congress. The plan, at its core, would allow the President to raise the debt ceiling on his own in exchange for insufficient spending cuts and a congressional ‘expression of disapproval.’ McConnell’s plan supersedes the rights of the American people.”
McConnell’s plan is most likely doomed since so many Republicans are opposed to giving the President so much leverage. Mr. Walsh is attempting to rally more than 100 Republicans to sign the letter by Wednesday. If successful, House Leadership would be hard pressed to bring the plan to a vote.
Last week a former Member of Congress told The Christian Post that McConnell’s plan essentially threw House Speaker John Boehner “under the bus” and was simply an effort for Senate Republicans to gain control of the issue – a difficult proposition given Republicans are the minority party in the Senate.
That is not stopping a bipartisan group of Senators from searching for a workable solution.
“We’re presenting the progress we’ve made,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the Budget Committee chairman, told CNN. “It’s a comprehensive approach that reforms entitlements, reforms the revenue code, cuts spending, is balanced and is in the range of $3.6 to 3.7 trillion.”
The original “Gang of Six” included Conrad and two fellow Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Mark Warner of Virginia. Two Republicans, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Mike Crapo of Idaho are members, however, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) dropped out of the group over disagreements in the direction the group was moving.
The White House is still sticking to their Friday deadline to have a plan in place.