Conservatives threaten to block any Senate action unrelated to debt

A group of Senate conservatives threatened Thursday to block Senate action on most items unrelated to spending and the national debt.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) led seven other GOP senators in pledging to block legislation unrelated to the debt.

"While there are certainly many issues that warrant the Senate’s consideration, we feel that the Senate must not debate and consider bills at this time that do not affirmatively cut spending, directly address structural budget reforms, reduce government’s role in the economy so businesses can create jobs, or directly address this current financial crisis," the group wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

"We, therefore, are notifying you of our intention to object to the consideration of any legislation that fails to directly address this crisis in a meaningful way," they added. "Our objections would be withheld if the Senate agrees to dedicate significant floor time to debate this issue well in advance of the federal government reaching our statutorily mandated debt limit."

The conservative bloc could conceivably halt the movement of legislation if they're joined by their Republican colleagues. While the Senate's been working actively on spending issues, it has voted at the same time on a series of other unrelated items in order to keep the chamber's business going. 

“After ignoring jobs for months, Republicans are making it official by vowing to block every bill that creates American jobs," Reid spokesman Jon Summers shot back late Thursday.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said more time needs to be given in the Senate for debating the nation's debt woes. 

“Senator McConnell appreciates their focus on the most important issue facing our country right now – the out of control spending and rising national debt – and agrees that there should be sufficient floor time to debate this issue in advance of reaching our statutorily-mandated debt limit,” McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said.

Updated 5:04 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.