Manchin: No to upping debt limit without a fix for 'fiscal mess'

Freshman Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will not vote to raise the debt ceiling this spring unless it's tied to a long-term deficit reduction plan, he'll say Monday in a speech.

Manchin, a centrist Democrat who's expected to face a tough reelection challenge in 2012, will join some conservative Republicans in demanding that fiscal reforms accompany any vote to allow the government to borrow more money.

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"We must get our fiscal house in order. We must be honest about what we value and what we need to spend your taxpayer dollars on — not what just sounds good," Manchin will say, according to prepared excerpts released by his office.

"That is why I will vote against raising the debt ceiling unless the vote is linked to a real budget plan that begins to fix our fiscal mess," the Democrat will explain. "We cannot make budgets based on the next election; they must be based on the next generation."

The speech, scheduled for Monday morning at the University of Charleston, is part of a weeklong tour of West Virginia, during which Manchin will hammer away on a number of priorities.

During his first few months in office, Manchin made abundantly clear that one of those top priorities is spending, and he's shown a willingness to break with his own party to prove it. Case in point: Manchin slammed President Obama during a Senate floor speech in early March, saying the president had "failed to lead" when it came to the spending fight in Congress.

"In the coming weeks, we will face many difficult budget decisions," Manchin will say of that fight. "I know it will not be easy. I know that it will take compromise. I know it will be partisan and difficult. I know that everyone will have to give up something and no one will want to relinquish anything. But we cannot ignore the fiscal Titanic of our national debt and deficit."

Lawmakers are currently locked in a fight over how to fund the government for the remainder of this fiscal year; then they'll move on to a fight over next year's budget. They'll have to vote on whether to raise the debt ceiling.

Republican and Democratic leaders have said there is no chance of allowing the U.S. to default on its debt, but a growing number of lawmakers have sought to use the threat of voting against raising the ceiling as a bargaining chip for larger fiscal reforms. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a Tea Party-backed freshman, for instance, has said he wouldn't vote to raise the limit unless it were accompanied by a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.