In a high-stakes showdown last Thursday night, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was forced to delay a vote on his debt ceiling originally planned for Thursday afternoon after he failed to garner the 216 votes necessary for passage. On Friday morning, lawmakers reacted to the news:
-Sen. Michael Bennett, D-Colo., lamented that there may no longer be time for a bigger deal, along the lines of the “grand bargain” the Obama administration has been pushing: “The Senate Democrats and the Senate Republicans need to come together around a bipartisan plan. I deeply regret the fact we're not going to get something comprehensive in the next four days, and that’s where we should be. I don't think we should have a temporary lift in the debt ceiling, because Washington has shown no capability of dealing with the problems. We've got to be able to, in the end, put this country on a fiscal path that's rational and makes sense or else we're going to face the first credit downgrade in this country's history. It's tragic,” he said on CBS’s The Early Show.
-Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is voting against Boehner’s bill. “I would not want [Boehner’s] job for quintuple the salary. But for me, it has to be a remedy that is transformative, that transcends election cycles,” he said on CNN’s American Morning.
House Republicans already voted twice to raise the debt ceiling, said Gowdy, a member of the Oversight and Government Reform committee. “If the Senate has a plan, they certainly haven’t shared it with us. If the president has a plan, he certainly hasn’t shared it with us. What we’ll do today-- and I’ll predict it will be done today-- is for the third time send a plan that raises the debt ceiling in a responsible way. The Senate hasn’t done it, the White House hasn’t done it.”
- The bottom line for most Republicans going onto the floor, Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., told MSNBC, “is that we are willing to raise the debt ceiling.” But many will favor a two-step plan “because people don’t trust the process,” he said. “We want to make sure the cuts get delivered. I have been here for four years – they have all kinds of gimmicks up here. You get through the moment or the day, get it passed, and never get around to the other part of the deal.”
Buchanan said he would vote for Boehner’s proposal and that he is confident something will pass by Tuesday.
-Tea party favorite Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., supports Boehner’s plan but doesn’t think other lawmakers associated with the tea party should if it doesn’t sit with their values. “Every person, every man, woman has to search their own heart… I searched my own heart… everything is there [in the plan] that meets my criteria and I can stand by those principles,” he said on Fox & Friends.
He called the speaker’s proposal a “70, 75 percent” plan, saying he disagreed with the way it was packaged, but thinks it would be a bad idea to “sit around and wait for the 100 percent plan.” The speaker’s plan would allow House Republicans to “continue to move the ball forward, down the field, and that's why I'm supporting it,” West said.
- Unlike some of his colleagues on Capitol Hill, ranking Senate Budget Committee member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., doesn’t blame the far-right faction of his own party for refusing to budge on debt-ceiling negotiations, even at the expense of votes for the proposal put forth by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio – he says the fault belongs to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
“I have been a big critic of the majority leader in the Senate because we have not had a budget process; we have no real bill put forward,” Sessions said Friday on MSNBC. “The president hasn’t spelled out anything yet in writing. He talks numbers, but when you read the details they are not there. They have avoided accountability and any real votes. That’s a mistake, I think. It’s put us in a position where at the last minute, as I predicted, we’ll have all kind of complex legislation and wheeling and dealing and the attempt to avoid a crisis.”
In contrast, Sessions said he “admires” the tea party, a group even Republicans have criticized for its intransigence on the debt ceiling, for “wanting to actually alter this debt course we are on.” Still, he advised them to try to come to terms with Boehner’s plan, because “there are going to have to be compromises to make this work.”
-Senate Banking Committee member Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said on MSNBC that he supports a short-term solution because “having these debates in the middle of an economic downturn that we’re having right now is not healthy.” So in a perfect world, he said, both chambers will be able to push out “something that actually achieves [cuts approaching $4 trillion] on the front end and extends the debt limit beyond this next election. To me that would be a perfect solution.”
Still, Manchin said he was optimistic that a bill will move soon. “I think they can fix it,” he said. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “will get their groups together and we can work together on the Senate and maybe move something. If they want a bigger deal, we’ll give them one. We’ll give them a deal that Republicans on the Senate side agree to, and maybe the House can move this thing.”
-Freshman Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz, told college student delegates Friday at the College Republican Conference in Washington, D.C. that he will vote for the plan put forth by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “It’s not the most ideal bill that you’ll ever see…but we’re making a step in the right direction,” he said.
Quayle questioned whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would be able to “line up all the Democrats to vote this thing down” if Boehner’s bill reaches the Senate, but said in a private conversation before his speech that he didn’t know if the House would muster enough votes for the speaker’s plan, either. “If we can make sure this bill” reaches the Senate, Quayle said, “the ball is in their court.”
-Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., suggested too many members of Congress have reelection on the brain as they negotiate with the other side. “Let’s not worry about the next election,” he said. “The worst scenario in the world for a politician is that your constituents can send you home to be with your family; it’s not a bad consolation. Let’s do the right thing."
Sophie Quinton Contributed.