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GOP whip says new Boehner debt bill to include deeper cuts

House Republican leaders are looking for deeper cuts rather than a reduction in new debt authority as they rewrite Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: How GOP takes back the House in two years Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Principles to unify America MORE’s (R-Ohio) debt-ceiling bill, the party’s top vote-counter, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), told The Hill on Wednesday.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: How GOP takes back the House in two years Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Principles to unify America MORE postponed a planned vote Wednesday and returned to the drawing board after the Congressional Budget Office estimated his bill cut only $850 billion over 10 years, not the $1.2 trillion he had projected. The report complicated an already shaky bill, which faced mounting opposition from conservatives. It also threatened Boehner’s pledge to demand more spending cuts than new borrowing authority. The legislation called for a $900 billion initial increase in the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

In a brief interview, McCarthy said leaders were still working on the bill and could not say when it would be ready for members to review or even whether a vote would occur on Thursday. He compared the situation to the 2011 fiscal spending fight, when GOP leaders also found more cuts to satisfy reluctant lawmakers and the CBO scorekeepers.

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“We’re going to fix it. The one thing you see when you see the score is that the [continuing resolution] what we did, we were able to cut more,” McCarthy said after a closed-door conference meeting. “That gives us the opportunity to go further.”

The GOP could meet Boehner’s pledge by reducing the new borrowing authority below $850 billion, but McCarthy sad they were focused on finding more reductions in spending. “I think you’re looking at members looking to be able to cut more,” he said.

He sounded an upbeat note on the leadership’s struggle to round up GOP support for the bill. “It’s growing every day,” McCarthy said, declining to provide a specific vote count.

When the bill will come up for a vote remains unclear, and Congress is facing a rapidly closing window to act. The Treasury Department has said the nation could default without an increase in the debt ceiling by Aug. 2

“We’ve been working on it. As soon as it gets done,” McCarthy said on the timing of the revised bill. “We’ve got to make sure we get that work done. We would like to make sure everybody is able to see everything.”