By Mike Lillis - 08/01/11 12:37 AM EDT
A growing number of House Democrats is urging President Obama to abandon his dealings with Republicans and hike the debt ceiling unilaterally.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus announced plans for a Monday press conference, which they later postponed, to call on Obama to sidestep Congress and hike the debt limit by invoking the 14th Amendment – an option the president has so far rejected.
The liberal lawmakers are pushing back against the budget package being negotiated by the White House and Senate Republicans, which reportedly includes $1 trillion in federal spending cuts, and sets up a mechanism to guarantee up to $2 trillion more in deficit reduction later in the year.
It's unclear how many members of each caucus would oppose the bipartisan package outright. But their criticism threatens the bill's chances, as many conservative Republicans are expected to oppose the measure for its absence of a balanced budget amendment. The defections will leave GOP leaders – if they ultimately choose to support the package – reliant on Democrats to pass the bill.
The proposal would likely lead to steep cuts in many federal programs historically championed by Democrats, including environmental protections, education, food safety and public health.
The bill is not expected to include tax-revenue increases, which many Democrats have demanded.
The imbalance has prompted some liberals to announce their opposition even before all the details have been released.
"The very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways," Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), a co-chairman of the Progressive Congress, said Sunday in a statement. "Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost.
"I will not be a part of it," he added.
Members of both the Black and Progressive caucuses support a clean debt ceiling hike, but that strategy is a non-starter with Republicans, who are using the must-pass debt-ceiling vote to wring as many spending cuts as they can from Democrats.
The Democratic Caucus is expected to meet on Monday to discuss the proposal. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that she's still weighing whether she'll support it.
"I have to meet with my caucus tomorrow to see how they wish to proceed," Pelosi said. "We all may not be able to support it, or none of us may be able to support it. But we'll wait and see."
This story was updated at 10:56 p.m.