Blue Dog leaders seek to team debt-ceiling vote with spending cuts

Reps. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Dan Boren (D-Okla.) — the co-chairman and whip, respectively, for the fiscally conservative group of congressional Democrats — said they were trying to bring the left and the right toward the center when it comes to fiscal discipline and that there would be serious consequences if the debt limit were not raised.

“There's got to be a compromise, though, because the bottom line is there's a lot of us that are conservative Democrats that are not going to vote to raise the debt limit,” Ross said on "Fox & Friends." “... We've got to pay our bills, but we're not going to do it unless we see significant cuts to the out-of-control spending in Washington.”

Those comments came on the same morning that Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), Blue Dog co-chairman, said that there has essentially been “no communication” between the coalition and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader.

Congressional Republicans have said they would try to tie a vote to raise the debt ceiling to a push to make budget cuts. But top officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, have stressed that not raising the debt limit — thus paving the way for the United States to default on its debts — would be catastrophic.

The Treasury Department said recently it expected the $14.3 trillion ceiling to be hit between April 5 and May 31. For their part, House Democrats have indicated that their Republican counterparts should not expect much assistance in getting a debt-ceiling measure through their chamber. 

On Monday, Boren acknowledged there was a still a fair amount of uncertainty swirling through the debt-ceiling debate in Congress. 

“We're worried about the economy, but we're also worried about the debt,” Boren said. “So we've got to sit here and see. These new members that are coming in the Republican conference — new members that came from the Tea Party — what are they going to do? What are the Senate Democrats going to do? What are the Senate Republicans going to do?”