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Roll Call

Balanced Budget Amendment Must Pass or Debt Deal a No Go, RSC Chair Warns

Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan has warned GOP leaders that he and a growing group of conservatives will vote against any debt limit deal — even if they support it — if the House and Senate have not first passed a balanced budget amendment.

In an interview on CSPAN's Newsmakers program, scheduled to air Sunday morning, the Ohio Republican bluntly warns that without a balanced budget vote, he and more than 30 of his fellow conservatives will oppose any deal Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Barack Obama negotiate.

"Passing a debt ceiling increase would be contingent upon a balanced budget amendment passing the House and the Senate and being sent to the states," Jordan said.

He added, "This in my mind is the real game changer ... use this moment to — the first time in American history — to pass a balance budget amendment to the Constitution."

Jordan did, however, say it remains unclear how many of his Members will vote against the deal if it does not include the amendment.

"I don't know if you can say all of them will. But would a lot of them, yeah," Jordan said, noting that 33 of his members have signed a pledge that includes a demand for the balanced budget amendment. The RSC boasts more than 175 GOP Members.

Jordan also rejected the idea that Republicans should be willing to compromise.

"We're on the side of commonsense and the American people. ... If you look at the last election, the American people sent more Republicans here to make the kind of changes I'm talking about here," Jordan said.

Jordan also rejected the notion of using some tax loopholes and subsidies — such as those for ethanol — as a way to raise revenues in the deal.

"I'll be clear on this too. There is no way the Republican Study Committee is going to be in favor of raising taxes," Jordan said.

Republican leaders have been adamant that they will not agree to a deal that includes tax increases, but they have also been careful to not specifically rule out eliminating tax loopholes as a way to raise revenues.

However, for Jordan, all revenue raising proposals are clearly off the table.

When asked specifically if eliminating oil industry tax breaks and ethanol subsidies are tax increases, Jordan said, "Yeah, it certainly is ... I'm going to oppose any deal that raises taxes. That's the bottom line."

Jordan did give Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) positive marks on their handling of the debt limit talks so far, saying he believes they have been stong in the negotiations.

"We have been very encouraged by what Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor have said, particularly on the tax issue," Jordan said.

Although a balanced budget amendment — which would need to ratified by 38 states before it went into effect — could potentially pass the House, it is unlikely Republicans can muster the super-majority vote needed in the Senate. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is unlikely to bring it up.

To a certain degree, Jordan's probable opposition to the looming debt deal is not unexpected. Boehner, after all, lost more than 50 Republicans earlier this year on his deal with Obama to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year.

GOP leadership aides have acknowledged they could lose at least as many Republicans on any debt deal for various reasons.

Still, as leader of the RSC, Jordan's voice carries significant weight within the broader Republican conference. In fact, earlier this year — with leadership's blessing — Jordan was successfully able to defeat a trade bill that had been brought to the floor.

Meanwhile, with Obama and Boehner appearing to close in on a deal, the National Governors Association sent a letter to the president and Congressional leaders Saturday urging them to avoid any arrangement that shifts costs to states.

With talks increasingly focusing on changes to Medicare and Medicaid, state officials have become wary that the debt deal will end up forcing further costs onto states, many of which are facing their own financial problems.

"While we recognize the need to address the federal fiscal imbalance, we do not believe spending reductions should be made disproportionately to state funds or result in merely shifting costs to the states," NGA Chairwoman Christine Gregoire (D) and NGA Vice Chairman Dave Heineman (R) wrote in the letter.

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