Senate conservatives say they don’t plan to delay consideration of debt-limit deal

Senate Republican conservatives say they do not plan to delay a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling, giving Congress a chance to make the Aug. 2 deadline set by President Obama.

If any member of the Senate withholds his or her consent to speed up the chamber’s floor procedures, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could not pass legislation to raise the debt limit before Wednesday, according to a Senate aide.

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But conservatives, including members of the Tea Party Caucus, say they do not plan to blow up the floor proceedings in protest of a deal that does not include passage of a balanced budget amendment.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, said he would insist that any compromise receive at least 60 votes on the Senate floor but not drag out the process to delay an agreement beyond Tuesday.

“I don’t see any reason for not agreeing to an advanced time table,” Lee said. “A 60-vote threshold is one thing but there’s no reason to run the clock out any more.”

Republicans criticized Reid on Friday for not agreeing to waive debate time on the Senate Democrats’ plan to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans wanted to consider the measure on Friday. Instead, Reid insisted on holding the vote on Sunday — originally scheduled for 1 a.m.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a conservative Republican freshman and Tea-Party favorite, said: “I’m not going to do anything procedural to slow it down."

“I haven’t thought it through but that’s not my intention,” he said.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) another member of the Tea Party Caucus said he would have to review the deal between Obama and GOP leaders but did not seem eager to delay Senate consideration of it beyond Tuesday.

“I don’t want to tempt fate and delay this beyond Aug. 2 but I don’t want to expedite a bad deal,” he said. “We haven’t seen the bill yet.”

DeMint, however, did not seem enthusiastic about allowing leaders to pass a short-term extension of the debt limit — perhaps for two or three days — to give negotiators more time to work something out.

“I don’t think they need one or two days, they have plenty of money to make it a week or so,” he said.

Several Republican lawmakers have argued that the Obama administration has exaggerated the importance of meeting the Aug. 2 deadline, believing the federal government has enough money in its accounts to avoid a national default.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), one of the chamber’s most outspoken liberals, has not signaled he would slow Senate procedures to protest a debt-limit deal that drastically cuts spending without raising new taxes. Sanders voted against Reid’s debt limit plan on Sunday.

Reid told colleagues Sunday that he would move a deal — if there is one — by using a message from the House as a legislative vehicle. That would allow him to hold fewer cloture votes to pass it but would not shorten the timeline enough to guarantee a Tuesday vote. He must have unanimous consent from the entire chamber to pass it in time.