House GOP signals openness to backup debt plan
July 14th, 2011
09:21 PM ET
9 years ago

House GOP signals openness to backup debt plan

Washington (CNN) - In a sharp turnaround, House Republican leaders signaled Thursday they are open to a backup debt ceiling plan pushed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to avoid a default on the nation's credit.

"What may look like something less than optimal today, if we're unable to get to an agreement, might look pretty good a couple of weeks from now," House Speaker John Boehner said during a Capitol Hill news conference.

Boehner, R-Ohio, emphasized the McConnell proposal was something he thought should be on the table only if negotiations collapsed.

"I think it's worth keeping on the table. There are a lot of options that people have floated and, frankly, I think it's an option that may be worthy at some point," Boehner said.

The change in position was notable because just a day earlier, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, said the measure couldn't pass the House.

But GOP aides now say that as talks remain stalled and the deadline nears, leaders are leaving open the option that some version of the McConnell plan could come before the House.

McConnell's proposal would allow three short-term increases to the debt ceiling between now and the end of next year. Congress could vote against an increase by passing a resolution of disapproval. The president could then veto the resolution of disapproval, but it would be unlikely Congress would have enough votes to override his veto.

But now, as the White House negotiations falter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and McConnell, R-Kentucky, are working on a variation of the Senate GOP leader's plan that could serve as way around the debt impasse. It would combine McConnell's proposal, which requires three votes on short-term increases in the debt limit, with a Democratic proposal that would create a bipartisan commission to recommend entitlement and spending cuts, tax increases and other measures designed to reduce the debt, according to congressional aides. Congress would then vote on the package but would not be allowed to amend it.

In addition, aides said Reid and McConnell are considering including in the plan more than $1 trillion in spending cuts that the Biden-led talks had identified, in a bid to gain support from House Republicans.

House conservatives have strongly opposed McConnell's original framework because it would give the president the authority to raise the debt ceiling without requiring any spending cuts in return.

One House GOP congressional aide said details were still scarce on the Senate plan, but said "it's feasible" House Republicans could accept a version of the McConnell-Reid plan if spending cuts were included.

In a sign of the tough challenge for Speaker Boehner to get conservative support, one of his lieutenants at the leadership table, freshman Rep. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, dismissed McConnell's back up plan as "unworthy, unrealistic and an abdication of the responsibility of the majority."

But Scott also conceded that as the clock ticked down toward the deadline - even with a group of conservatives opposed to any deal - Boehner could get enough votes to pass something.

"I think there's a possibility that a lot of folks will do a lot of things when the pressure gets really hot. The only question is can you survive those, that abdication, come election day in about 15 or 16 months," Scott said.

As Democrats accused Cantor of undermining White House negotiations after a tense exchange with Obama at the end of Wednesday's meeting, both he and Boehner sought to show they are united. At one point during Thursday's Capitol Hill press conference, Boehner walked over to Cantor, who was answering a question about the reported split between them, and put his arm around him, as reporters and aides to the leaders chuckled at the deliberate public gesture. The sound of cameras clicking could be heard as photographers moved quickly to capture the moment.

Boehner then defended Cantor, saying, "We have been in this fight together and any suggestion about the role that Eric has played in these meetings has been anything less than helpful is just wrong."

Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit • Eric Cantor • John Boehner • Mitch McConnell
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. A Real Patriot

    How does McConnell clearly state that his priority is the political success of his party over the good of the country and get a way with it? And they are the party that always throws around the Un-American argument around...Sheez....

    Independents and Democrats who were too lazy to vote in 2010-this is what you caused. You must have a serious case of buyers remorse all around this nation...let's see--government inserting itself into your family to tell you that you do not have control over how many children you have-Oh...laws that allow concealed weapons in bars-ah...labor crushing parenthood destruction...let's see--debt ceiling Armageddon....

    Anyone remember the Republican promises of "Jobs....Jobs....Jobs....?

    Independents were absolutely buffaloed by the lies of the Republicans in 2010-it is your duty to fix that in 2012 and elect adults to Congress and statehouses

    July 15, 2011 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  2. Renee

    Obama 2011.

    July 15, 2011 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  3. Perplexed

    What a sorry bunch of losers the new Republican party is. They will be like the Whigs shortly. Why does Boehner always look like he hit the bottle -more now than ever.

    July 15, 2011 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  4. Angela

    The nation is on pins and needles with the fact that the nation is on the verge of even think of millions of people who receive social security checks, veterans disability,ssi etc. Would be catastrophic in major proportions.i strongly believe that the fact of if no settlement is reached by aug 2 that aug 3 no checks will be sent.i very much believe its 99percent scare tactic 2 get them democratics and republicans to come to a quick resolution

    July 15, 2011 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  5. Eileen Curras

    House Republican leaders will agree to the push from China and the crude reality. Thursday they are open to a backup debt ceiling plan but the citizens need to be alert to protect their basic rights. The nation's credit cannot sacrife citizens.

    July 15, 2011 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  6. flannelguy

    As "we" are all in this together how about each member of Congress, the Executive and the Judicial Branch cut their salaries by at least 50%, do away with all "postage" and "travel" line items for a single budget cycle as part of the mix?

    July 15, 2011 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  7. ash

    Let get this done and concentrate on job creation and reduced west in spending.Major fight needs to be about JOBS JOBS and JOBS.

    July 15, 2011 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  8. Miss Scarlet

    I have a better backup plan...backup to the way Bill Clinton balanced the budget and left office with a surplus. Tax the
    wealthy and big corperations. Do away with the generous tax loopholes they have been given and stop punishing the
    elderly, disabled, and unemployed for this mess.
    We watch the news and read the newspapers. And I'm hearing more people say Republicans only represent the rich.

    July 15, 2011 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  9. Alex

    Make the deal, reps. The country is tired of politicians making choices based solely on what is good come next election vs. what is good for the country.

    Raise taxes, i'll gladly pay a % or two more to keep my country afloat.

    You won't though, because raising taxes will lose you your next election and we all know to you politicians that winning your next election is better than the survival and repair of our nation's fiscal issues.

    July 15, 2011 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  10. Debbie

    Boehner is dumb if he thinks Cantor is not out after his job.

    July 15, 2011 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  11. RMann

    Republicans, the next election is your concern? Stupid as you always have been.

    July 15, 2011 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  12. Jack

    As a self-proclaimed Tea Party member, I helped vote in a GOP governor and a Representative in the House. I feel betrayed but not because the Republicans are going to cave in on the battle with the Obama Administration. No. Instead, I feel betrayed by the Republicans (and Grover Norquist) for deceiving me in saying they were going to be the fiscal saviours of our county's economy. But now I see the truth – and, as much as I hate to admit it – Obama showed me how wrong I was to trust the "Tea Party's push for fiscal responsibility." Obama showed me the Republicans didn't care about the massive cuts – my God, four trillion they were offered! But what were the Republicans really interested in? They showed me – and every Tea Partier their true colors: In the face of this four trillion cuts offer, they showed they were far more interested in three things. First, they refuse to tax the rich. Second, they wanted to keep Tea Partiers like me to supporting them by their "never raising taxes" stance. Third, they want to defeat Obama at any cost to our nation – literally – to sustain their current dominance in Congress and State capitals. Well, I have had my revelation – I am voting against these self-serving liars in the next election!

    July 15, 2011 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  13. Loren

    Have you noticed how the Republicans so often misrepresent the truth, and pander to the selfish and ignorant? The whole notion that raising the debt ceiling will cause increased spending ... when it simply reflects spending decisions already passed into law. The foolish mantra that raising taxes will hurt job growth, when spending cuts do so at least equally as much. The selfish determination to put all the burden of correcting the deficit on the shoulders of the poor and middle class.
    These are selfish and ignorant arguments. Shame, shame, shame on this disloyal opposition!

    July 15, 2011 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  14. Carl

    Just wait a little bit. The Republicans will change their mind about this plan too once the President signs on. I wonder how much longer they will keep up with the "reject everything the President agrees with" plan of attack which ain't working GOP. Grow up sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, put on your big boy pants and let the election of 2008 go.

    July 15, 2011 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  15. Dan from Tx

    3rd down..... he punts!

    July 15, 2011 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  16. Rodger Dean

    As a long time Republican, I have to say I'm disappointed in my party regarding the debt crisis. They need to learn to not run such a hard line if they are to be effective. And creating a "not-our-fault" scenario by voting to give power to Obama to raise the debt ceiling, only to vote against it later, knowing that it will pass (because it has to), is pathetic. I agree with Rep Scott that this is an "abdication of the responsibility of the majority." What's the big deal letting the Bush era tax cuts expire for the wealthy folks? It's not like conservatives are raising taxes... just letting one-time cuts expire. I though, as conservatives, we preach balanced budgets first and responsible taxation (meaning low taxation) second.

    July 15, 2011 04:32 am at 4:32 am |
  17. Marie MD

    I see that constipated man is two over from the weeper of the house and not right behing him like always.
    It's plain and simple tax the rich so the 98% of the population doesn't continue to carry them on our backs and leave SS, Medicare and Medicaid off the table!!
    To those of you who say that the President is scaring the seniors. It's not the President but the rethugs that you need to be scared of right now. The President was stating what could happen. The rethugs want IT to happen to screw the seniors due to what they consider "entitltements" while giving the rich (who have more than enough already) more money. Those entitlements that you paid for all your life to have some money and medical care in retirement.

    July 15, 2011 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  18. Ain't life strange?

    Helpful Republicans... now there's two words that don't go together.

    July 15, 2011 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  19. DA

    LOL...Okay America here is how they will frame this in the up coming election...."We the GOP didn't want to raise the debt ceiling and we didn't" therefore they keep those crazy teabanger happy and make the President, continue to look like he is not willing to make necessary cuts when it comes to the Nation debt and budget. I mean really how obvious can you guys get on this? The President is forcing their hand and they are trying to find a way to save their corporate buddies taxes. Oh and here is the other clincher in this scenario, while the Democrats were wailing about the Medicare and SS cuts, in the end they would have gave into them simply because the Republican would still look bad because they forced their hand, but their saving grace would have been the tax hikes on the wealthy. Dude the Republican were going to loose any way you cut it. So now they play this game. LOL....What a party of Dummies!!

    July 15, 2011 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  20. Clwyd

    It is a plot to give Obama the right and need to reach a debt solution and then blame him once again! Republicans are now all animals! Pigs.

    July 15, 2011 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  21. Cfrench

    The tea-baggers have the republicans backed into a corner. By endorsing McConnell's plan the republicans really are not agreeing to anything, they're simply avoiding accountability. A bunch of spineless cowards only concerned with winning re-election by not offending the tea-baggers.

    July 15, 2011 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  22. lgny

    This is soooo silly. Instead of fixing the problem, the Republican leadership prefers a series of political theater allowing government to operate (extend the debt ceiling) while they gain three opportunities for speeches and sound bytes to please their conservative base.

    This is no way to run a nation!

    July 15, 2011 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  23. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared war on US!

    The GOBPbaggers have backed themselves into a corner with their unreasonable demands and refusal to compromise. In particular, the teatard are apparently OK asking the poor and middle class to make sacrifices while refusing to demand the same from their corporate masters and billionaire overlords. What a shameful excuse for a party (which is really just a cult for corporatism).

    July 15, 2011 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    "In a sharp turnaround, House Republican leaders signaled Thursday they are open to a backup debt ceiling plan pushed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to avoid a default on the nation's credit."
    That news is not as good as it sounds. It is the Tea Party freshmen that are against any raising of the debt ceiling.

    Some 230 House Republicans have signed pledges not to raise the debt ceiling no matter what and they are sticking to their pledges. Republican House leaders have no control or leadership over the majority of the caucus.

    July 15, 2011 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  25. Matt

    Oh, Mr. Scott... You were elected to help the American people, not play political games to be elected again. Sure, the American attention span is short and they will likely forget that voting in favor of raising the debt limit is necessary to avoid what could be a total catastrophe, but if that is enough to deter you from helping them, you should probably stop trying to help. But I must give you credit; you seem to recognize that there is a problem, unlike Rep. Bachmann who would rather let the nation default despite the fact that international creditors are already reconsidering the US credit rating in light of the current squabble.

    GodJesus bless america

    July 15, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
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