Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is adding his name to a bill with Tea Party roots. McConnell will co-sponsor the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, his office confirmed Thursday, only two days after floating a plan to pass the responsibility of raising the debt limit off to President Obama.
The legislation, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) last week, would make any increase in the debt ceiling conditional on passage of a balanced-budget amendment. It also would reduce total spending next year by $142 billion and set caps on spending over the next decade.
The bill embodies the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge promoted by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) over the past month. The pledge gained wide-spread conservative support, as has the bill, but McConnell's co-sponsorship on the bill represents support from a member of the Republican leadership.
The move has garnered McConnell cautious support from within the Tea Party movement.
Influential Tea Party group FreedomWorks thanked McConnell Thursday for signing onto the bill. The group called it a "step in the right direction" in a tweet sent Thursday.
Earlier this week, FreedomWorks tweeted its displeasure with McConnell over his proposed fallback plan for the debt-ceiling talks, urging supporters to "help [McConnell] find his spine" in the negotiations.
McConnell's fallback proposal would authorize Obama to request a $2.5 trillion increase in the debt limit with a three-step process that would be able to sidestep congressional disapproval. McConnell said Wednesday that Republicans should not vote to raise the debt ceiling — and therefore share in "co-ownership of a bad economy" with Democrats — if Democrats would not agree to balance the budget and cap spending first.
Original co-sponsors of the bill were Republican Sens. DeMint, Pat Toomey (Pa.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), John Thune (S.D.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), David Vitter (La.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), John Boozman (Ariz.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), with additional senators signing on since its introduction last week.