A top conservative senator on Thursday indicated he is willing to go to extreme lengths to prevent a vote on raising the debt ceiling, even if it hurts the Republican Party politically.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said on the conservative Laura Ingraham Show he is considering filibustering an upcoming vote to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit if it doesn't contain other fiscal reforms.
Asked if that would serve as the GOP's "Waterloo" in the 2012 elections, the senator replied, "If it is, then let it be."
That could pose a conundrum for leaders in both political parties, who say it is imperative for Congress to raise the debt ceiling to prevent the government from defaulting on its debt.
DeMint's remarks evoke his mantra from the last election, when he pledged to make the Democrats' healthcare law President Obama's "Waterloo," referring to the ultimate defeat of 19th century French leader Napoleon Bonaparte.
"If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo, it will break him,” DeMint said in the summer of 2009.
The White House has warned Republicans not to block a vote on the debt limit. Failing to raise the ceiling would be "Armageddon-like" for the economy, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said recently. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said the U.S. is expected to reach its debt limit by May 16.
Meanwhile, GOP leaders have said they would be open to doing so if serious spending cuts or fiscal reforms are attached to the vote. Some GOP senators have called for their balanced budget amendment to be attached to the vote.
DeMint, whom Tea Party activists consider a key ally, urged Republican leaders to draw the line.
"I think Republicans have to decide this is a time to start the fight," he said. "Not passing the debt ceiling is not going to cause us to default on our debt."