House tees up conservative plans to raise debt limit

House tees up conservative plans to raise debt limit
© Greg Nash

The House is expected as early as Friday to vote on a conservative debt-limit proposal even though chances are slim that the plan can pass the Senate.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCoronavirus poses risks for Trump in 2020 Lobbying world Pelosi-Trump relationship takes turn for the terrible MORE (R-Ohio) told the GOP conference on Wednesday that he is expecting a vote on the Republican Study Committee (RSC) plan that would raise the debt limit to $19.6 trillion from $18.1 trillion and would run through March 2017.

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The RSC plan, introduced on Tuesday, is still circulating among the group’s 170 party conservatives.

RSC Chairman Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresDemocrats push to end confidentiality for oil companies that don't add ethanol The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising The Hill's Morning Report — Trump broadens call for Biden probes MORE (R-Texas) said that from what leadership said, he is expecting a vote on Friday. 

The proposal would require a House vote on a balanced-budget amendment by Dec. 31, would implement a short-term freeze on federal regulations through July 1, 2017, and would compel the House to remain in session without a break if spending bills aren't done by Sept. 1.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewRussian sanctions will boomerang Obama talks up Warren behind closed doors to wealthy donors On The Money: Lawmakers pile on the spending in .4T deal | Trump-Pelosi trade deal creates strife among progressives | Trump, Boris Johnson discuss 'ambitious' free-trade agreement MORE moved up the deadline to raise the debt limit to Nov. 3, two days earlier than initially anticipated.

With only two weeks to go, the pressure is on the House to pass a measure that raises the nation’s $18 trillion debt ceiling amid a search for the next Speaker. 

Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan says Biden likely won't get Democratic nomination Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power MORE (R-Wis.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, reluctantly stepped forward on Tuesday night with a list of five conditions plus the requirement that the majority of the fractured Republican conference support his bid to lead the House GOP. 

Despite the chaos surrounding the Speaker search, the House is expected to pass a debt-limit measure by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) later Wednesday.

Republicans argue that the legislation, which was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee last month, takes default off the table, requiring the Treasury Department to continue paying the nation’s bills — the principal and interest due on the debt and all obligations to the Social Security trust funds — even if the ceiling is eclipsed.

Democratic leaders in both chambers — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Harry Reid: 'People should not be counting Joe Biden out of the race yet' Warren highlights work with Obama, Harry Reid in new Nevada ad MORE (Nev.) — have repeatedly called for Republicans to bring up a “clean” debt-limit bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Trump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he would wait to see what the House sends over. 

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE of New York, the Senate's third-ranking Democrat, told reporters on Wednesday that the RSC plan and McClintock’s measure are “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

He called the two plans “nothing more than default and economic collapse by another name.”

"Experts from the right, left and center have panned plans that prioritize debt payments because they know it doesn’t prevent default," he said during a conference call.

He specifically criticized the RSC plan for including “massive” spending cuts of $3.8 trillion for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

“Republicans are attempting to roll up a giant wooden Trojan horse filled with unworkable plans,” Schumer said.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said during the same call that “messing around with the possibility of a United States default is a grievous error.”

Summers said that prioritizing debt payments is “probably not feasible to do with accuracy and precision in ways that avoid financial chaos.”

The pressure to raise the debt ceiling is complicated by the search for the next House Speaker.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCoronavirus poses risks for Trump in 2020 Lobbying world Pelosi-Trump relationship takes turn for the terrible MORE acknowledged on Tuesday that it would be difficult to find the 218 votes needed to pass a clean bill that doesn’t include spending cuts demanded by from the conservative wing of the party.

“I don’t like the idea of doing a clean debt-ceiling [increase],” he said on Fox News on Tuesday.

“We’re going to talk to our members and we’ll find a way forward here in the next couple of days.”