Corker assembling bloc to demand reforms ahead of debt vote

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday he's hoping to assemble a bloc of senators who will demand tax and spending reforms before agreeing to vote to raise the U.S. debt ceiling next year. 

Corker said he's begun conversations with colleagues looking ahead to a vote next spring on the debt ceiling, a highly anticipated moment that's seen as a possible turning point in the debate over deficits and U.S. debt.

"I'm already talking to folks on both sides of the aisle," Corker said on CNBC. "I think you're going to see resistance to voting for the debt ceiling increase later this spring without us doing something that is real as it relates to all of these issues you are talking about."

Congress is expected to vote sometime in the first half of next year on legislation to raise the amount of money the government is legally allowed to borrow to finance its deficits. By that point, Republicans will control the House and will have strengthened their numbers in the Senate, and they hope to use the debt ceiling vote as a bargaining chip to secure spending cuts.

"I think there's momentum building for that," the Tennessee senator added. "I'm trying to develop with others a critical mass to make sure that we do not raise the debt ceiling without making sure that we cut expenditures and broaden the base in some way."

The report by President Obama's fiscal commission earlier this month has raised the prospect of tax and spending reforms next year. The president himself has expressed an interest in possible comprehensive tax reform, and the leaders of the House and Senate budget committees are already warning of spending cuts next year.

The bipartisan support in Congress for elements of the fiscal commission's proposals have bolstered hopes that there might be an appetite for tax and spending reforms in the coming Congress.

"The debt ceiling, obviously, is going to have to be increased if we're not going to default, so the question is, what do we get in exchange for that, and what kind of fiscal controls?" said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the incoming chairman of the House budget panel, last week on Bloomberg Television.