Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Monday night said he could support an increase in the debt ceiling if it included a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
King came down to the House floor just moments after House Republicans finished a meeting where leaders said they would propose a debt ceiling hike for a year that includes language repealing a cut to military pensions. But that plan didn't sit well with dozens of House conservatives, who said Republicans need to continue fighting for spending cuts during these battles over the debt ceiling.
"This would get me to vote for a limited debt ceiling increase… a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution," he said on the floor. "I'd step up and take a real good look, depending on the terms of it of course, at voting for a debt ceiling increase under those conditions."
King added that it would need to cap spending at a certain percentage of gross domestic product; he favors an 18 percent cap. It would also have to include the option of waiving this cap during a declared war or other emergency, and would also have to require a supermajority in Congress before taxes are raised.
King said if a balanced budget amendment were not possible, he'd support language requiring a more detailed audit of the Federal Reserve. Barring that, he said he'd support language preventing federal bailouts of insurance companies under ObamaCare.
Republicans have in fact been discussing whether and how to attach ObamaCare language to the debt ceiling bill. King's proposal on the healthcare law came just hours after the Obama administration delayed the employer health insurance mandate for another year.
King also argued that Democrats are overstating the problem when it comes to the debt ceiling, by saying failing to increase the ceiling would put the government at risk of default. But King said Democrats are purposefully using the word "default" when in fact there is no risk of defaulting on the national debt.
"Their definition of default is the moment that the United States runs out of borrowing capacity, which isn't the same, because the cash flow still comes flowing in, hundreds of billions of dollars a month, plenty of money to service the interest and to pay the debt," he said.
King added that if the ceiling were not increased, the government would have to make choices about how it spends the money it receives, and said there would be more than enough to make interest payments.
King spoke after Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said on the floor that he would not be able to vote for a clean debt-ceiling increase. Barton said at this point, one of the biggest items in the federal budget is interest on the debt, a sign that the government's borrowing is spiraling out of control.
"I will not vote… for a so-called clean debt ceiling because I think that is a dirty deal for the American people," he said.
Both King and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) criticized today's ObamaCare decision, mirroring their past complaints about the administration's ongoing waiver of several parts of the law. Gohmert said today's decision shows that Democrats unnecessarily dug in their heels during last year's government shutdown, since they were opposed to delaying ObamaCare last year, only to watch President Obama delay it on his own.