Many Conservatives Reluctant to Merge Budget, Debt Fights

Kevin Brady speaks at a press conference to talk about extending the payroll tax cut for working Americans on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011.
National Journal
Tim Alberta
Oct. 3, 2013, 4:42 p.m.

The House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence will con­vene a spe­cial meet­ing Fri­day morn­ing, and mem­bers ex­pect GOP lead­er­ship to ad­dress how the feud over gov­ern­ment fund­ing is bleed­ing in­to the big­ger, more con­sequen­tial battle over ex­tend­ing the na­tion’s bor­row­ing lim­it.

“There’s a grow­ing sense that, at the end of the day, this all gets wrapped up to­geth­er,” said Rep. Kev­in Brady of Texas, deputy whip for the House Re­pub­lic­ans.

Wheth­er Brady’s col­leagues will wel­come such a com­pre­hens­ive ap­proach, however, re­mains to be seen. Al­though the Oct. 17 dead­line to ex­tend the debt lim­it looms large over Wash­ing­ton, some con­ser­vat­ives are skep­tic­al about let­ting the Sen­ate off the hook at a time when they feel they have seized mo­mentum in the shut­down battle. To com­bine the fund­ing fight with the debt-ceil­ing fight, they say, could rob Re­pub­lic­ans of the lever­age they have gained in re­cent days.

“We’re ready to open up 95 per­cent of the gov­ern­ment right now; Harry Re­id is the one stand­ing in the way of that. So he may have a motive there to col­lide them to­geth­er,” said Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., speak­ing of the Sen­ate ma­jor­ity lead­er.

Oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans wel­come the no­tion of the long-dis­cussed “grand bar­gain,” con­vinced that their po­s­i­tion grows stronger as the cal­en­dar draws closer to Oct. 17 — es­pe­cially if the gov­ern­ment re­mains shuttered. With mount­ing pub­lic pres­sure on the White House to de­liv­er the na­tion from the brink of its first-ever de­fault, they think Pres­id­ent Obama would be amen­able to an agree­ment that in­cludes wins for both parties — in­clud­ing, per­haps, some re­struc­tur­ing of en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams that he would oth­er­wise nev­er con­cede.

“As it starts get­ting closer to the debt-ceil­ing date, the pres­id­ent feels more and more pres­sure,” said Rep. Raul Lab­rador, R-Idaho. “I think there’s a good chance we can both get things we want, be­cause he un­der­stands that we’ve nev­er gone past that debt line.”

But not all GOP law­makers en­dorse a com­pre­hens­ive ap­proach. The con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers who are com­mit­ted to de­fund­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act real­ize that any sweep­ing res­ol­u­tion to these twin fisc­al fights would have to in­clude sig­ni­fic­ant policy con­ces­sions — in­clud­ing fund­ing for Obama­care. This could be a con­ces­sion they simply are not will­ing to make, re­gard­less of what Re­pub­lic­ans get in re­turn.

In fact, dur­ing a pre-shut­down con­fer­ence meet­ing, Rep. Tim Huel­skamp, R-Kan., stood up and asked Speak­er John Boehner to make a com­mit­ment that any Re­pub­lic­an fund­ing meas­ure would run through mid-Decem­ber. The reas­on for that re­quest, Huel­skamp said, was to re­as­sure con­ser­vat­ives that “these deals would be ne­go­ti­ated sep­ar­ately.”

Lead­er­ship of­fi­cials, for their part, in­sist that they want to handle the dis­putes sep­ar­ately — and are do­ing everything they can to solve the cur­rent crisis be­fore mov­ing on to the next.

“We’re try­ing to get the gov­ern­ment open as quickly as pos­sible,” House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor, R-Va., said at a Wed­nes­day press con­fer­ence when asked about the con­ver­gence of ne­go­ti­ations.

Rep. James Lank­ford of Ok­lahoma, chair­man of the Re­pub­lic­an Policy Com­mit­tee, echoed Can­tor in an in­ter­view with Na­tion­al Journ­al Daily. “I don’t think any­one wants to stretch this out for two weeks; I’d like to re­solve it this af­ter­noon,” Lank­ford said Wed­nes­day. “I don’t be­lieve there’s any ar­gu­ment for stretch­ing this out for two weeks, like it provides us some sort of myth­o­lo­gic­al lever­age once we get there.”

Of course, no one in the con­fer­ence is ac­cus­ing Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship of in­ten­tion­ally drag­ging out the fund­ing de­bate in hopes of rolling the two ne­go­ti­ations in­to one. Con­ser­vat­ives con­tin­ue to the blame the pro­longed shut­down on Sen­ate Demo­crats and the White House. Still, they are sus­pi­cious of any GOP ef­fort to aban­don the nar­row goals of the fight over the stop­gap spend­ing bill in fa­vor of an ill-defined at­tempt at a big, broad deal.

“The reas­on the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is shut down is be­cause Pres­id­ent Obama and his al­lies con­tin­ue to pro­tect a failed law that is hurt­ing the coun­try,” Her­it­age Ac­tion CEO Mi­chael Need­ham said in a state­ment Thursday. “Their reck­less be­ha­vi­or should not breathe life in­to mis­guided dreams for a grand bar­gain, which every­one un­der­stands is Wash­ing­ton-speak for un­der­min­ing the se­quester, in­creas­ing taxes, and ac­cu­mu­lat­ing debt.”

What We're Following See More »
SUFFOLK POLL
New Survey Shows Clinton Up 9 in Pennsylvania
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

If a new poll is to be believed, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. A new Suffolk University survey shows her ahead of Donald Trump, 50%-41%. In a four-way race, she maintains her nine-point lead, 46%-37%. "Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race."

Source:
$500 MILLION PROJECT
Obama Library Heading to Jackson Park in Chicago
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Barack Obama has chosen Jackson Park, a lakefront park that once hosted the world’s fair on the city’s South Side, for his $500 million presidential library, according to a person familiar with the matter."

Source:
THREE NIGHTS RUNNING
Democrats Beat Republicans in Convention Ratings So Far
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Wednesday was the third night in a row that the Democratic convention enjoyed a ratings win over the Republican convention last week. Which might have prompted a fundraising email from Donald Trump exhorting supporters not to watch. "Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Many VIPs Were the Secret Service Protecting in Philly Last Night?
5 hours ago
THE ANSWER

Seven, according to an official Secret Service tweet.

Source:
‘MOGUL,’ ‘DAREDEVIL’
Candidates’ Code Names Revealed
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The Clintons will retain their Secret Service "code names from the last time they lived in the White House. Hillary Clinton is EVERGREEN and Bill ClintonEAGLE. Donald Trump is MOGUL, according to reports, and Melania Trump MUSE. The vice presidents get code names, too: Mike Pence is HOOSIER—a little on the nose—and his wife HUMMINGBIRD. Tim Kaine is DAREDEVIL, somewhat ambitiously. His wife's? To be determined."

Source:
×