Conservatives warn leaders on debt limit, budget follow-through

On the eve of a vote on the House Republican budget, conservatives in the lower chamber are warning their leadership that they won’t be satisfied unless they see follow-up legislation implementing the blueprint’s far-reaching reforms.
 
The group of fiscal hard-liners is eyeing the next battle over raising the debt ceiling as an opportunity to enact reforms to entitlement programs that would begin the path to balance laid out in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget.
 

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“It’s not just passing the Ryan budget. It’s actually implementing and passing legislation that gets us to balance in 10 years,” Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) said at a conservative event Wednesday on Capitol Hill. “That’s the plan that I support, and I believe that that’s the plan that most conservatives support. Some people in this conference believe that the plan is just to pass the Paul Ryan budget and once we pass the Ryan budget, then we have met ... all of our goals.”
 
“My goal,” he added, “is not to pass a meaningless document by itself unless we actually implement the policies that will get us to a 10-year balance.”
 
The House GOP budget is expected to pass on Thursday after most conservatives accepted the leadership’s pledge to propose eliminating the federal deficit within a decade.
 
But the savings and reforms in that document are considered dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate, leaving many in the House GOP worried that their balanced-budget push won’t go anywhere.
 
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday said House leaders would begin discussions with members after the two-week Easter recess on how to proceed on the debt ceiling. Congress in February enacted a suspension of the statutory borrowing limit through mid-May, and the Treasury Department is expected to have the means to avoid a default on the debt well into the summer.
 
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Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), one of the few vocal critics of the Ryan budget, said he expected the leadership to find “a bright shiny object” to attach to the debt limit to attract conservative support, rather than actual significant spending cuts or reforms. In the most recent debt-limit bill, House GOP leaders latched onto a “No Budget, No Pay” provision requiring both chambers of Congress to pass budget resolution or risk having their salaries withheld.
 
“If this is something where they’re trying to placate the base, then I don’t think anybody here is going to support the raising of the debt ceilings,” Labrador said.
 
Boehner has tried to stick to a rule requiring that any increase in the debt ceiling be accompanied by equivalent spending cuts or reforms, but President Obama has vowed not to negotiate over the borrowing limit again and is insisting on new tax revenue as part of any fiscal deal.