(CNN) – A top Republican U.S. senator brushed off the anti-tax pledge pushed by activist Grover Norquist and embraced widely for years by GOP lawmakers.
"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Sen. Saxby Chambliss told Georgia television station WMAZ, a CNN affiliate, on Wednesday. "If we do it his way, then we'll continue in debt and I just have a disagreement with him about that."
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Congress faces a year-end deadline to reach agreement on taming the U.S. budget deficit or take other steps to avert the so-called fiscal cliff of mandatory tax increases and spending cuts that experts say would push the country back into recession.
At the heart of budget standoff is disagreement over how to raise new revenues to help reduce red ink.
President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats call for an increase in tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, while House Republicans, who control that chamber's majority, favor other approaches for bringing in money, such as closing certain tax loopholes and eliminating deductions.
Norquist, who heads the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform, has been successful over the years in lobbying a strong majority of congressional Republicans to sign his pledge to not raise taxes.
Many GOP candidates who ran for office also signed the promise, but earlier this year, a small number of freshman lawmakers rejected the idea that they were bound to the document.
Chambliss, along with 38 other senators and 219 House members entering the next Congress, have signed the pledge, according to the website for Americans for Tax Reform.
But Chambliss, who has previously criticized Norquist's stronghold on anti-tax sentiments, said this week that the fiscal conservative's ideas stand in the way of finding a solution for ballooning debt.
"Norquist has no plan to pay this debt down," said Chambliss, who is up for re-election in 2014.
The anti-tax crusader has said he predicts congressional Republicans will stand firm and negotiate a deal that excludes tax hikes.
Asked if Chambliss is concerned Norquist may use his resources to combat a re-election bid, the senator said, "In all likelihood, yes."
"But I don't worry about that because I care too much about my country," he said. "I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist."
The two-term senator from Georgia added he's "willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves."
– CNN's Adam Levy contributed to this report.
It is all based on convenience and not on principle. Why did he sign the dumb pledge to start with? He was worried about the people who would challenge him in his own party. Now he sees the winds changing he now "cares too much about his country". The man is sick and an opportunist.
It is about time that republican lawmakers grew a spine.How stupid were they to let Norquist bully and intimidate them into submission. Hats off to Chambliss!
There u go. Good 4 u Chambliss. We need more bold leaders like u. Country first and to hell with Norquist! thank u.
Good call senator Chambliss – you represent ALL the people of GA, not just Norquist. You do what you feel is best for your state, that's what GA elected you for. I seriously don't know how Norquist gets away with this, ONE man holding politicians hostage.
It's about time someone told Norquist off. With all the GOP rhetoric having some falsely believe Obama is Muslim, Norquist has already infected the party and has a Muslim wife. Norquist needs to crawl back under his rock.
Congressmen and Senators should only be allowed to sign pledges to their electorate. How come Mr Norquist has so much power anyway???
Someone finally who is willing to standup for the country instead of an impractical obstinate ideology
What happens to you if you break Norquist's pledge – jail time, fines, 3 hail Mary's??? Anyone know?
Thanks Saxby, but if this is how you feel stop signing the durn pledge! We the people didn't vote for Norquist & yet he's usurped all this power over us w/this ridiculous, unwieldly pledge! How can Republicans give so much power to some1 who shouldn't have more power than any other private citizen! I mean, why can't any1 of us form an organization & pressure politicians to sign our "pledges"!? No private citizen or organisation should have this much control of the government, which is why I support Obamas crackdown on lobbyists! Also, we are not raising taxes on the rich, we're simply letting their undeserved taxbreaks expire! Big difference, that!By the way, Boehner & his crew better keep their greedy hands off Our ACA!!
FINALLY! Thank God. A GOPer comes to his senses.
If you think about it, signing a pledge "not" to do you job, would get you fired. In this case, it's pretty much treason.
Who died and gave this Norquist so much power. What gov. Posistion has he held? I dont remember electing him for any thing. Is this the Republicans god? The fear certainly shows! How can one man have so much control sure seems like a good case of blackmail to me. I hope more Republicans start acting like grown ups and get the bully to back off. P.S. The election is over deal with it! When are they going to get it! !!!! THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN !!!!Loud and clear. Take your marbles and go home!