Boehner Gets Conservative Support for Debt Ceiling Plan

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  January 23, 2013 at 8:55 AM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker John Boehner is joined by other Republican Party members at a news conference on Tuesday. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

A debt ceiling vote with little tension. A sign off from the White House. Welcome to Bizarro Washington.

House Republicans will move forward with a vote Wednesday on a plan that would suspend enforcement of the country’s $16.4 trillion borrowing limit until May 18, pushing off what likely would have been a bruising fight in the next couple of weeks with potentially harmful consequences for the economic recovery.

The proposal also directs both the House and Senate to adopt budget plans by April 15. If one or both chambers fails to do so, its members will have their pay withheld in escrow until the close of the 113th Congress in early 2015.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday that the measure was aimed at getting Democrats in the Senate to offer up a blueprint.


“Over the last four years House Republicans have offered plans — our budget plans — we’ve done our budgets, but it’s been nearly four years since the Senate has done a budget,” Boehner said Tuesday at a Capitol Hill news conference. “Most Americans believe you don’t do your job, you shouldn’t get paid, and that’s the basis for no budget, no pay. It’s time for the Senate to act.”

The White House gave the proposal a grudging endorsement Tuesday, issuing a statement that said the administration “would not oppose” the short-term measure.

“A temporary solution is not enough to remove the threat of default that Republicans in the Congress have held over the economy,” the statement read. “The Congress should commit to paying its bills and pass a long-term clean debt limit increase that lifts self-inflicted and unnecessary uncertainty from the Nation’s economy.”

As of Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., had not signaled if his caucus will back the measure, but things were sounding positive.

To get wary conservatives on board with the plan, Boehner pledged House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would put forward a spending blueprint this year that would balance the budget over the next decade.

“It’s time for us to come to a plan that will in fact balance the budget over the next 10 years,” Boehner said. “It’s our commitment to the American people, and we hope the Senate will do their budget as they should have done over the last four years.”

The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery and Rosalind Helderman reported that the commitment from Boehner and the GOP leadership on the budget had swayed some members in the party’s conference gathering Tuesday morning:

After the meeting, lawmakers offered broad enthusiasm for the new strategy. A smattering expressed opposition, suggesting that the measure’s passage may not be assured.

But even Rep. Raul R. Labrador (R-Idaho), a hard-line conservative who often bucks House leaders, said the promise of a balanced budget allayed his concerns about agreeing to extend the debt limit for a few months.

Now, Republican leaders “actually have an agenda,” Labrador said. “The agenda is to get to balance in 10 years, to have a balanced budget.”

Balancing the budget over the next decade, however, is likely to require extraordinarily deep cuts in spending that go even further than reductions in previous House budgets. In the past, Ryan has targeted spending on health care for the poor and other social safety net programs, such as food stamps and aid for college tuition.

Roll Call’s Jonathan Strong also found the vow from GOP leaders had strengthened support for the plan:

The additional concessions are playing a major role in shoring up support on the right, prompting positive reactions in some unlikely corners of the conference.

“Those with the influence look me in the eye and say this House will produce a budget that balances in 10 years. And there’s gonna be some tough stuff in there, but it’s telling the truth, it’s reality,” said Rep. David Schweikert, one of four members removed from coveted committee assignments in early December. The Arizona Republican said he was leaning toward voting for the measure.

“This is going to be the ultimate test of the relevancy of those we entrust with those leadership positions. And I believe there’d be hell to pay if they squander this,” Schweikert added.

Even by delaying a fight on the debt ceiling until May, lawmakers are still facing a pair of contentious fiscal battles in the coming weeks. Members must address the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester by March 1 (pushed back in the fiscal cliff deal), and current funding for the government is set to expire on March 27.

THINKING BIG

Jeffrey Brown moderated a 30,000-foot-level discussion Tuesday night reflecting on President Obama’s second-term vision as outlined in his inaugural address.

Joining him for the 16-minute discussion were Rev. Adam Hamilton, who delivered the sermon at the National Prayer Service, conservative opinion writer Ramesh Ponnuru, Angela Glover Blackwell of the advocacy group PolicyLink and Trey Grayson, director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics and former Kentucky secretary of state.

Grayson said he sees immigration as an area of possible compromise, while Blackwell said she was heartened by an aggressive president, whose remarks suggested he will fight for progressive values.

Ponnuru said he found the speech to be more of a “battle cry” than an outreached hand for cooperation. Hamilton said that Mr. Obama’s agenda can’t happen “until we figure out, how do we work together, how do we listen to one another, embrace the differences and find some way to forge forward?”

Watch the segment here or below:


LINE ITEMS

  • Nebraska GOP Gov. Dave Heineman signed off on the new route for the Keystone Pipeline.

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., threatened Tuesday to pursue the so-called “nuclear option” to change the chamber’s filibuster rules unless Republicans agree to a compromise plan this week.

  • Bloomberg’s Hans Nichols reports that Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the leading candidate to head the Energy Department.

  • U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is stepping down from his post next month. Mr. Obama praised Kirk in a statement, calling the former mayor of Dallas “a tremendous advocate for the American worker.”

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday about the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The big moment for Republicans comes as a new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds her at record popularity.

  • Vice President Biden is making moves toward 2016.

  • Eighty-nine-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., suggests that Newark Mayor Cory Booker deserves a spanking because his Senate bid is disrespectful.

  • Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was cleared of wrongdoing after an investigation into emails he sent to a Florida socialite also involved in the scandal that prompted David Petraeus to resign as CIA director.

  • Mr. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama appeared at the “staff ball” in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night — along with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett — to pay tribute to the campaign aides who helped him win a second term. The funds raised benefited the Alex Okrent memorial fund. “My main job here tonight is really simple: It’s just to say thank you,” Mr. Obama said. He commented on their youth and said, “It makes me know that America’s future is in good hands.” The president said Okrent’s untimely summer death at the Chicago campaign headquarters “reminded us of how precious our time on this earth is.”

  • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Newt Gingrich are sticking with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus for another term.

  • Some Democrats fret that the Obama campaign’s nonprofit spinoff could hurt party fundraising.

  • The National Rifle Association didn’t like the Mr. Obama’s inaugural.

  • Democratic freshman Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was elected to be vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

  • Fewer people watched the inauguration on television than 2009, Fox News reports.

  • It’s true. Beyonce lip-synched the National Anthem on Monday.

  • Maine GOP Gov. Paul LePage is one of the most unpopular governors in the country a new Public Policy Polling survey finds.

  • Friend of the NewsHour Alexander Heffner writes for the Boston Globe about young people itching to get involved in government.

  • An American pens an essay for Haaretz about what it was like to experience the inauguration from the crowd on the National Mall.

  • Wednesday’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA looks at the difference between private and public sector employees.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Gwen Ifill talked with Nancy Keenan of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life on the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Watch here or below.


TOP TWEETS

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.