Conservatives on Debt-Limit Plan: What’s In It for Us?

Spending cuts 10 years down the line don’t cut it for the Far Right.

A view of the US Capitol on January 27, 2014 in Washington.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
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Sarah Mimms
Feb. 10, 2014, 2:56 p.m.

House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship un­veiled a debt-lim­it strategy to mem­ber­ship on Monday night, leav­ing many con­ser­vat­ives won­der­ing what ex­actly is in the bill for Re­pub­lic­ans.

“The bot­tom line is this: This plan in­creases spend­ing and raises the debt ceil­ing. So it makes our fin­an­cial con­di­tion as a coun­try more pre­cari­ous in the years go­ing for­ward,” Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama said of the plan, which would add an ex­tra year of man­dat­ory se­quest­ra­tion cuts in or­der to off­set the cost of elim­in­at­ing re­duc­tions to mil­it­ary pen­sions.

Brooks and oth­ers called the ad­di­tion­al se­quest­ra­tion cuts, which won’t come un­til 2024, a gim­mick, not­ing that little Con­gress might do that far down the line is set in stone. Just look at the ori­gin­al se­quest­ra­tion cuts, which were altered in Decem­ber’s budget agree­ment, only nine months after they first took ef­fect.

“Yeah, a dec­ade from now [we’ll get the off­set], which to me is no off­set at all,” Brooks said. “You have to go through 10 years of Con­gresses be­fore you have a pay-for for an ex­pendit­ure that is im­me­di­ate.”

This is the second time in re­cent months that Con­gress has looked to se­quest­ra­tion to off­set new spend­ing. Once viewed as cuts so ter­ri­fy­ing that no mem­ber of Con­gress would al­low them to take ef­fect, a ma­jor­ity of mem­bers in both parties and both cham­bers passed the budget deal in Decem­ber that ad­ded an­oth­er two years to the man­dat­ory se­quester cuts.

“When you have a pres­id­ent that doesn’t want to go to the man­dat­ory side of spend­ing and we’ve cut be­low what even the Re­pub­lic­ans put out there on the dis­cre­tion­ary side, you’re left with no oth­er op­tions,” Rep. Dev­in Nunes, R-Cal­if., ar­gued.

“Look, nobody likes any of this. But there’s prob­lems with every bill we put up. I just think the lead­er­ship feels this one gives the best chance for us to get Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats to vote for it, get us to 218 votes,” Nunes ad­ded.

Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., in­dic­ated that he’ll be a “no” vote but agreed that lead­er­ship is do­ing its best to get mem­bers from both parties to pass a debt-ceil­ing hike. “They’re try­ing their best to find their an­swer,” he said.

House Re­pub­lic­ans were ex­pec­ted to post the bill with the Rules Com­mit­tee Monday even­ing, set­ting up a Wed­nes­day-morn­ing vote and leav­ing little time for ar­gu­ment with­in the caucus. Still, mem­bers over­all ex­pect the bill to pass eas­ily with Re­pub­lic­an and Demo­crat­ic sup­port. One House Re­pub­lic­an es­tim­ated that as much as 50 per­cent of his caucus would sup­port the meas­ure.

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