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 BoehnerA time for war, a time for peace — and always a time to defend America Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Soleimani killing deepens distrust between Trump, Democrats 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 LewObama 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 Former Obama Treasury secretary endorses Biden 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 RyanWarren now also knocking Biden on Social Security Biden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record 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 ReidThe Trumpification of the federal courts Trump to rally evangelicals after critical Christianity Today editorial Left presses 2020 Democrats to retake the courts from Trump MORE (Nev.) — have repeatedly called for Republicans to bring up a “clean” debt-limit bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump admin releases trove of documents on Ukrainian military aid The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions What to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he would wait to see what the House sends over. 

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocratic senator blasts 'draconian' press restrictions during impeachment trial Feds seek 25-year sentence for Coast Guard officer accused of targeting lawmakers, justices Clinton: McConnell's rules like 'head juror colluding with the defendant to cover up a crime' 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 BoehnerA time for war, a time for peace — and always a time to defend America Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Soleimani killing deepens distrust between Trump, Democrats 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.”