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Treasury’s Priorities List Might Cost Votes

Tom Williams/Roll Call
House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen says the Treasury Department’s plan to outline a list of who gets paid first in the event there is no debt limit deal by Aug. 2 could bring greater understanding of the consequences of breaching the debt limit and could propel a compromise on the issue.

"It is the right thing to do," said Nugent, a tea-party-backed freshman. He added that Republicans are earnestly looking for a solution to the issue and hoping to ramp down the deficit in the future. Earlier in the day, he said he would vote for Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) debt limit increase proposal.

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.), another tea party freshman, said she was frustrated with the White House and Senate Democrats.

"There is an awful lot of doublespeak coming out of the White House and the Senate," Buerkle said. "The White House almost becomes irrelevant in this conversation because when you don't offer a plan ... you become irrelevant."

Sen. Mike Crapo said he thinks the Treasury is weighing political factors as it decides to release its list.

"I think part of the reason they may be slow in coming out is to let the politics play out," the Idaho Republican said. "But ... once they lay out something ... then it creates an entirely new political battle over the priorities they have set."

Sen. Benjamin Cardin believes "it could cut both ways."

The Maryland Democrat said identifying "who is not going to get paid will certainly make the phone calls more intense" and could spur a deal.

But "it also does help those who say, 'Look, there is a way through this without an increase'" in the debt limit, Cardin said.

"I think they don't want to put this out, so I think they wait until the last possible minute," Cardin added.

House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said the Treasury list could help push a compromise.

"People need to understand the consequences of their actions, and to the extent that the Treasury Department can make clear what the consequences are, it should focus the minds of a lot of people up here," Van Hollen said.

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