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Boehner’s Debt Limit Demand Faces Skepticism

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Some Republican House Members said Wednesday that they were unconvinced that Speaker John Boehner can deliver on his demand Tuesday that any new debt ceiling hike be offset with spending cuts.

He said he would like to see a debt limit increase accompanied by a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. The conservative Republican Study Committee, meanwhile, a group that Landry belongs to, has an updated “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill they might push.

South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, another Republican who voted against the BCA, said that would be his preferred option.

“We all voted for ‘Cut, Cap and Balance.’ I was glad it was embraced by leadership,” he said. “The framework is there. Maybe we should be looking at that as a guide to proceed to the next level.”

Boehner’s allies, though, say the group might be asking for too much.

“There are folks here who want to do a lot more a lot quicker,” Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio) said. “But the Speaker is living in [the] reality of dealing with a Senate that’s controlled by Democrats and a president who has different ideas.”

There are some indications that GOP leaders can win over at least some of their Members. Rep. Trent Franks, who voted against the BCA, said he agrees with Boehner’s sentiment but not the strategy he used last year.

“Maybe some of us didn’t agree with the strategy that was used, but the impulse for it was certainly understandable. And he hasn’t changed his principle perspective. He may change his strategy, but the principle is the same,” the Arizona Republican said.

With all that, it remains unclear what strategy Republicans will pursue.

But either way, Democrats might be harder to convince to supply votes to the Speaker than they were last year. They said that Republicans reneged on the BCA when they passed the House GOP budget this year, which calls for cutting spending below what the agreement forecast.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters that the Speaker’s demands are “irresponsible” and “immature.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, meanwhile, who would likely be tasked with negotiating for Democratic votes on a debt limit increase deal, said he wants to reach a bipartisan compromise but is concerned that Republicans went back on the BCA.

“I’m concerned that we had an agreement, we reached an agreement on the BCA, and the Republicans, in my view, have abdicated on that agreement,” the Maryland lawmaker said.

Similarly, Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra said the party’s trust level is low with the GOP, indicating negotiations could be tough.

“I think it’s difficult to trust the House Republican leadership when they have broken their own agreement and they have walked away from their commitments on more than one occasion,” the California lawmaker said.

Jonathan Strong contributed to this report.

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