House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Tuesday bluntly warned his Republican colleagues that while they might not want to take a vote on raising the debt limit in the coming days, they must put aside their own differences and unite behind Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) or risk default.
Conservatives, including Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio), have already come out against Boehner’s plan, which would include two separate debt limit increases over the next year in addition to significant cuts to discretionary spending.
Unhappiness with the situation — and with Boehner’s plan in particular — has already put leadership’s ability to pass the bill in doubt, a reality that has clearly prompted Cantor and other leaders to come out strongly in favor of it.
During a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference, the Virginia Congressman acknowledged that “the debt limit vote sucks” for conservatives, according to a source who attended the session.
But Cantor, who himself has often been at odds with Boehner over the debt limit crisis, told Republicans the time for in-fighting is over and that sniping at Boehner’s plan is unacceptable.
“He said to stop grumbling and whining and to come together as conservatives and rally behind the Speaker and call the president’s bluff,” the source said.
Cantor also praised Boehner’s handling of the debt limit negotiations and said he is behind him “150 percent,” repeating his line from a Monday meeting when the Speaker unveiled the plan to the rank and file.
With mistrust of Boehner still running deep within the GOP, a united front among leaders has long been seen as critical to leadership’s ability to pass a bill and avert a collapse of the economy.
Following the meeting, Boehner said he sympathizes with conservatives who have criticized the bill for not going as far as Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget. “I’d rather have the House Republican budget,” Boehner conceded.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.