Freshman GOP senator pledges to filibuster debt-ceiling increase

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a founding member of the Senate's Tea Party Caucus, has pledged to filibuster legislation to increase the debt ceiling.

Lee said a filibuster could be averted only if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) reach an agreement to pass a balanced-budget amendment through the Senate.

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"I'm against raising the debt ceiling and so I'm resisting it," Lee said after the inaugural meeting of the Senate Tea Party Caucus in the Hart building on Thursday morning.

"The only scenario in which I can imagine not using the filibuster is if the leadership of both parties agree that as a condition of that they would first pass out a balanced-budget amendment."

A senior Senate Republican aide said unless Congress votes to increase the debt limit by $2 trillion next month, Congress may have to vote two more times this year to increase the federal government's authority to borrow.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has also said he will oppose legislation to raise the debt limit unless the Senate first passes a balanced-budget amendment. Passage of the amendment would need support from two-thirds of the Senate.



Such an amendment, which would require the federal government to balance its books annually, would not take effect for several years in order to give states time to ratify the amendment.


Senate aides say they expect a balanced-budget amendment could pass the House. It failed to pass the Senate by a single vote in the past.

Senate GOP aides say a promise from leaders to merely allow a vote on the balanced budget amendment would not be sufficient to win over conservatives such as DeMint and Lee.