Government Oversight

Conservatives revolt over lack of cuts

Rank-and-file House Republicans opposed to their leadership’s debt limit plan are brainstorming new ways to limit federal spending.

Even as GOP leaders seem intent on pushing through a debt-ceiling bill this week that doesn’t demand any new spending curbs, several conservative lawmakers are pressing for new ideas.

A few Republicans are hoping to tie a debt ceiling increase to a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Late Monday, Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) proposed legislation that would require both the House and Senate to vote on a balanced budget amendment.

{mosads}Crawford’s bill is an attempt to put limits on congressional spending habits that have pumped up the national debt to more than $17.2 trillion.

On the House floor Monday, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said he could support tying a balanced budget amendment to the debt ceiling, but it would have to cap spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product. King also said he wants a supermajority requirement for any new tax increases.

“This would get me to vote for a limited debt-ceiling increase … a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution,” he said.

Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) proposed suspending the debt ceiling for 10 years, and setting up new “fiscal sustainability” borrowing targets aimed at reducing the debt over that time.

As its title suggests, Barr’s Debt Limit reform and Congressional Pay for Performance Act would require lawmakers to take a pay cut any time they fail to stay within these sustainability guidelines.

“It is no secret that the current debt-limit law is a failure that does nothing to actually limit spending or remove the threat of default,” Barr said Monday. “It is time to stop allowing politicians to spend money today only to worry about how to pay for it tomorrow.”

The two bills were offered on the same day that GOP leaders said they would try to hold a vote Wednesday on a bill to suspend the debt ceiling through March 15, 2015. Dozens of House Republicans were expected to oppose this proposal, which dropped what has been a consistent GOP demand to curb spending as part of a debt-ceiling hike.

The bill also restored a $6 billion cut to military pensions and pays for this spending with cuts in 2024. Many Republicans are expected to be skeptical that this promise of cuts 10 years from now will be followed.

But by Tuesday morning, GOP leaders dropped that plan and said instead they would push for a vote on a clean debt-ceiling increase, something many Republicans were also expected to oppose.

— This story was updated at 11:28 a.m.


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