Former Minnesota governor and likely 2012 presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty (R) is warning Republicans in Congress not to vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Pawlenty said Republicans need to use the coming debt ceiling vote as leverage to enact some real spending concessions from Democrats, suggesting that GOP leaders were wrong to acknowledge that raising the debt limit is unavoidable.
"This debate about how we're going to restructure spending is inevitable," Pawlenty told the paper. "My view is, let's have it now. Let's call their bluff."
Pawlenty proposed a legislative fix that would prioritize paying the federal government's debt obligations over other federal spending. That, he suggested, would stave off the need for a debt limit increase until later in the year.
The former governor's comments come as the rhetoric over the looming debt ceiling vote heats up.
Also on Sunday, Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerDemocrats and the boycott of Trump's inauguration The Hill's 12:30 Report Why Democrats fear a successful inaugural address from Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) said he was pleased to hear House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorRyan reelected Speaker in near-unanimous GOP vote Financial technology rules are set to change in the Trump era Trump allies warn: No compromise on immigration MORE (R-Va.) again acknowledge the debt limit will ultimately have to be raised, warning of a new economic depression if Congress fails to raise the limit.
Both House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLast Congress far from ‘do-nothing’ Top aide: Obama worried about impeachment for Syria actions An anti-government ideologue like Mulvaney shouldn't run OMB MORE (R-Ohio) and Cantor have said the debt limit eventually must be increased, something Cantor reiterated over the weekend at the party's retreat in Baltimore, but both have also said they want significant concessions from Democrats on spending before House Republicans agree.
Last week, a handful of House Republicans expressed some support for the idea of tying any increase in the debt limit to a vote on a constitutional balanced budget amendment.