Conservatives Divided Over GOP’s Short-Term Debt Plan

Factions are forming, with plenty of fence-sitters and default-deniers waiting for specific language on the proposal.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) (3rd L) talks to, clockwise from lower left, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) prior to a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee March 19, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on 'The Release of Criminal Detainees by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Policy or Politics?' 
National Journal
Tim Alberta
Oct. 10, 2013, 12:48 p.m.

Fac­tions are form­ing with­in the con­ser­vat­ive wing of the House GOP, with like-minded mem­bers split­ting over a pro­posed six-week ex­ten­sion of the debt lim­it — and plenty of oth­ers sit­ting on the fence.

In this morn­ing’s closed-door GOP con­fer­ence meet­ing, lines were drawn as con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers rose to ar­gue both sides of the pro­posed deal. Rep. Raul Lab­rador of Idaho emerged as the lead­ing ad­voc­ate for the pro­pos­al, ac­cord­ing to mul­tiple law­makers in at­tend­ance. On the oth­er side, Rep. Tim Huel­skamp of Kan­sas was per­haps the most out­spoken op­pon­ent.

At the heart of the dis­agree­ment is a long­stand­ing cov­en­ant among con­ser­vat­ives — re­it­er­ated yes­ter­day by Re­pub­lic­an Study Com­mit­tee Chair­man Steve Scal­ise — that they should nev­er vote for a “clean” debt lim­it in­crease, re­gard­less of length or cir­cum­stance.

“We’d prefer a long-term deal,” Scal­ise said Wed­nes­day, when asked wheth­er con­ser­vat­ives would ap­prove a tem­por­ary debt lim­it in­crease. “But if we need to do something short-term, we should have the cor­res­pond­ing re­forms.”

For months, con­ser­vat­ives have ar­gued that something — any­thing — must be at­tached to a debt ceil­ing deal. Their primary tar­get has been man­dat­ory spend­ing; Re­pub­lic­ans spent the sum­mer months draft­ing a “menu” of en­ti­tle­ment re­forms to of­fer the White House in ex­change for vari­ous ex­ten­sions. With the White House des­per­ate to avoid de­fault, the think­ing went, Re­pub­lic­ans would have lever­age.

But the situ­ation is far more com­plic­ated than they foresaw. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is shuttered due to Re­pub­lic­an in­sist­ence on at­tach­ing an Af­ford­able Care Act delay to the fund­ing bill; at the same time, Con­gress is rap­idly ap­proach­ing next Thursday’s dead­line to raise the debt ceil­ing.

Pres­id­ent Obama is re­fus­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with Re­pub­lic­ans un­til both crises are re­solved. Some House con­ser­vat­ives think he’s bluff­ing. That group, led by Lab­rador, is con­vinced that if they tem­por­ar­ily raise the debt ceil­ing — al­low­ing them to dig in deep­er on the shut­down — they will break Obama’s no-ne­go­ti­ation stance. If that hap­pens, they think, con­ces­sions could be won on Obama­care that would solve the fund­ing fight and re­open the gov­ern­ment. Mean­while, they would still have Obama at the ne­go­ti­at­ing table to dis­cuss a long-term debt-lim­it deal fea­tur­ing the cuts to en­ti­tle­ment spend­ing that they have long de­sired.

But without any bind­ing lan­guage in the House pro­pos­al, Obama could eas­ily agree to sign that short-term debt-lim­it deal be­fore turn­ing around and de­mand­ing that a fund­ing bill must also pass be­fore ne­go­ti­ations be­gin. Should that hap­pen, con­ser­vat­ives would feel doubly duped — for­feit­ing what was left of their ne­go­ti­at­ing lever­age, and abandon­ing their debt-ceil­ing prin­ciples to boot.

This sense of un­cer­tainty, amp­li­fied by a deep dis­trust con­ser­vat­ives feel for the White House, has Lab­rador pitch­ing a pro­pos­al that some of his fel­low con­ser­vat­ives aren’t sold on.

Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who is per­haps Lab­rador’s closest friend in Con­gress, said he — like many oth­er con­ser­vat­ives — is on the fence. They have heard ar­gu­ments for and against the plan, but aren’t will­ing to stake out a po­s­i­tion un­til they see the lan­guage of the fi­nal bill.

“I’ve al­ways said that I would sup­port a debt-ceil­ing in­crease only if it’s coupled with ma­jor re­forms to gov­ern­ment. I had nev­er really con­sidered things like one-week debt ceil­ing in­creases, or one-month debt ceil­ing in­creases,” Amash said.

What We're Following See More »
WHITE HOUSE URGING QUICK SENATE ACTION
John King Gets Nod for Education Secretary
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

President Obama has said he’ll nominate John King to fill out the last few months of Obama’s presidency as Secretary of Education. King has been in an acting secretary role since Arne Duncan stepped down in December. The White House is pressuring the Senate to act quickly on the nomination.

Source:
162,000 SIGNATURES SO FAR
Sanders Supporters Begin to Petition Superdelegates
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Bernie Sanders supporters aren’t taking this whole superdelegate thing lying down. Despite a tie a blowout win against Hillary Clinton, Sanders trails her by some 350 delegates in the overall count, thanks mostly to superdelegates pledging to support her. His backers have taken to creating a MoveOn.org petition to pressure the superdelegates to be flexible. It reads: “Commit to honoring the voters—let everyone know that you won’t allow your vote to defeat our votes. Announce that in the event of a close race, you’ll align yourself with regular voters—not party elites.” So far it’s attracted 162,000 signatures. Related: At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver notes that in 2008, Clinton had a 154-50 superdelegate advantage over President Obama when New Hampshire voted. But “by the time Clinton ended her campaign on June 7, 2008, Obama had nearly a 2-to-1 superdelegate advantage over her,” owing in part to many pledged delegates who switched their support to Obama.

Source:
REGULAR ORDER
Ryan Pitching the Importance of Passing a Budget Today
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

House Speaker Paul Ryan today is trying to convince his large but divided conference that they need to pass a budget under regular order. “Conservatives are revolting against higher top-line spending levels negotiated last fall by President Obama and Ryan’s predecessor, then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). GOP centrists are digging in on the other side, pledging to kill any budget that deviates from the two-year, bipartisan budget deal.” Ryan’s three options are to lower the budget numbers to appease the Freedom Caucus, “deem” a budget and move on to the appropriations process, or “preserve Obama-Boehner levels, but seek savings elsewhere.”

Source:
HEADED TO PRESIDENT’S DESK
Trade Bill Would Ban Imports Made with Slave Labor
4 hours ago
THE DETAILS

“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.

Source:
TRUMP UP TO 44%
Sanders Closes to Within Seven Nationally in New Poll
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).

Source:
×