House conservatives lay out conditions for supporting debt-limit increase

More than a hundred House conservatives have signed a letter to GOP leaders setting stringent conditions that should be met if they are to support a national debt-limit increase.
 
Conservative members of the House Republican Study Committee are growing suspicious about whether House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLott says lobbying firm cut ties to prevent him from taking clients Lobbying firm cuts ties to Trent Lott amid national anti-racism protests Bush, Romney won't support Trump reelection: NYT MORE (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorTrump taps pollster to push back on surveys showing Biden with double-digit lead Bottom Line The Democrats' strategy conundrum: a 'movement' or a coalition? MORE (R-Va.) will push for adequate spending cuts in talks with Vice President Biden. Biden is scheduled to hold an additional round of talks on Thursday.
 

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In a letter to be delivered to BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLott says lobbying firm cut ties to prevent him from taking clients Lobbying firm cuts ties to Trent Lott amid national anti-racism protests Bush, Romney won't support Trump reelection: NYT MORE and Cantor Monday, the House conservatives called for discretionary and mandatory spending reductions that would cut the deficit in half next year.
 
They also asked for statutory, enforceable spending caps that would limit total federal spending to 18 percent of gross domestic product.
 
The lawmakers demanded Congress pass and send to the states for ratification a balanced-budget amendment that would strictly limit spending and require super-majority votes to raise taxes.

Some House conservatives are beginning to doubt the GOP leadership’s commitment to a balanced-budget amendment, which has the support of 47 Senate Republicans.
 
“The fast-approaching debt-ceiling vote gives us an opportunity to make a bold statement to the American people about what direction we want our country to go,” the conservative members of the House Republican Study Committee wrote in the letter.
 
“Further, given the condition of the country’s finances, it is imperative to the future of the country that we fight for an immediate shift toward fiscal responsibility,” they wrote.
 
A House GOP aide said the purpose of the letter is to describe the steps that President Obama and Congress should take in return for conservatives considering an increase in the debt limit.
 
The aide, however, cautioned that the letter did not necessarily constitute a pledge to vote against the debt-limit increase if the conditions are not met.
 
“These are 103 people who have said if you do these things — and the devil is in the details — if you do cap and balance, we’ll strongly consider an increase in the debt limit,” the aide said.
 
But the aide said conservatives reserve the right to decide how to vote even if the White House and congressional leaders fail to reach an agreement that would cut the deficit in half or if a balanced-budget amendment falls short of the two-thirds vote needed in the Senate and House.
 
“We’re not looking to lock people in a 'yes or no' vote,” said the House GOP aide.
 
The conservative signatories argue that drastic action is needed in light of several “staggering facts”: that public debt has more than doubled in the past five years; that interest paid on the debt is projected to more than triple over the next 10 years; and that the International Monetary Fund has estimated that the size of China’s economy will surpass that of the United States in 2016.
 
“With each passing day our nation’s fiscal health gets worse, leaving our children and grandchildren falling farther into debt,” the lawmakers wrote. “The Democrats have given up, saying that the only answer to excessive borrowing is more borrowing. Therefore, it is imperative that we move quickly and unite behind a plan to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington and renew the Age of America.”

The Treasury Department has said it can keep the United States from defaulting on its debt until Aug. 2. In a meeting with House GOP freshmen last week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said it would be “lights out” for the economy if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.