Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Tuesday distanced himself from Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) plan to move a clean debt-limit bill blasted by Tea Party groups.
McConnell declined to take a position on Boehner’s latest gambit or comment on Tea Party criticism that it is a “complete capitulation to Democrats."
Tea Party-affiliated groups have already weighed in strongly against a clean bill to expand the nation’s borrowing authority.
“A clean debt ceiling is a complete capitulation on the Speaker’s part and demonstrates that he has lost the ability to lead the House of Representatives, let alone his own party,” said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots. Heritage Action, a conservative advocacy group, has urged lawmakers to oppose the debt-limit bill and pledged to make it a key vote on its legislative scorecard.
McConnell said last month that Republicans should oppose raising the debt limit without attaching deficit-reductions measures.
“I think for the president to ask for a clean debt ceiling, when we have a debt the size of our economy is irresponsible. So we ought to discuss adding something to his request to raise the debt ceiling that does something about the debt or produces at least something positive for our country,” he said on "Fox News Sunday" on Jan. 26.
McConnell on Tuesday declined to comment on the fire Tea Party groups have directed at Boehner.
“They’re certainly free to express their opinions about what we do here along with everybody else, and we’ll see how it plays out in the Senate,” he said.
McConnell declined to speculate if Democrats would be able to muster the five GOP votes they need to pass a clean debt-limit increase through the Senate.
“It looks to me like we’ll find out in the next couple of days how this will be handled in the Senate,” he said.