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 BoehnerDemocrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Stopping the next insurrection Biden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid 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 FloresThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it 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 LewThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis On The Money: Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary | Biden says he's open to tighter income limits for stimulus checks | Administration will look to expedite getting Tubman on bill Sorry Mr. Jackson, Tubman on the is real 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 RyanOn The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection Former Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 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 Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Biden hits one-year mark in dire straits 'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act MORE (Nev.) — have repeatedly called for Republicans to bring up a “clean” debt-limit bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Mellman: Voting rights or the filibuster?  Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he would wait to see what the House sends over. 

Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown DACA highlights pitfalls of legalization schemes The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote 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 BoehnerDemocrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Stopping the next insurrection Biden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid 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.”