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 »
BUT HE’S NOT ADVOCATING FOR IT
Grassley Open to Lame Duck Hearings on Garland
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Monday he'd now be willing to hold a hearing on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in a lame-duck session of Congress. While he said he wouldn't push for it, he said if "Hillary Clinton wins the White House, and a majority of senators convinced him to do so," he would soften his previous opposition.

Source:
DEFINITELY MAYBE
Rubio Can’t Guarantee He’ll Serve a Full Term
2 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

We can call this the anti-Sherman-esque statement: If reelected, Marco Rubio ... might serve his whole term. Or he might not. The senator, who initially said he wouldn't run for a second term this year, now tells CNN that if reelected, he wouldn't necessarily serve all six years. “No one can make that commitment because you don’t know what the future is gonna hold in your life, personally or politically,” he said, before adding that he's prepared to make his Senate seat the last political office he ever holds.

Source:
DUTERTE BECAME PRESIDENT IN JUNE
Obama to Raise Multiple Issues in Meeting With Philippines Prez
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Since Rodrigo Duterte took over as president of the Philippines in June, he has made a serious of controversial statements and launched a war on drugs that has led to nearly 2000 deaths. He called the US ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, "a gay son of a bitch." Next week, President Obama will meet with President Duterte at the East Asia Summit in Laos, where he " will raise concerns about some of the recent statements from the president of the Philippines," according to White House Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes.

Source:
LATE SEPTEMBER
Conservatives Preparing ‘Dry Run’ for Constitutional Convention
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The Convention of States Project, which seeks to force a constitutional convention under Article V of the Constitution, will hold a "dry run" in Colonial Williamsburg starting Sept. 21. "Several states have already followed the process in Article V to endorse the convention." Thirty-four are required to call an actual convention. "The dry run in Williamsburg is meant to show how one would work and focus on the changes and potential constitutional amendments that would be proposed."

Source:
GERMAN MINISTER SAYS U.S. WON’T COMPROMISE
U.S.-EU Trade Deal a Dead Letter for Now
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Sigmar Gabriel, the German economic minister, said there's no chance of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being agreed upon before the U.S. elections this fall. Gabriel said the United States "had effectively ended talks" on the free trade deal with the European Union "because Washington had not wanted to compromise with its European counterparts."

Source:
×