Fleming said that, for him and many members of the conservative Republican Study Committee, any deal to raise the debt ceiling would have to be tied to a budget that would balance in 10 years “at a minimum.”
Set up in something of an “open mic” style, according to one Republican staffer, lawmakers will take turns weighing in on how they think leadership should proceed with negotiations with Democrats on raising the debt limit by the time an extension becomes necessary. That probably will be after Labor Day, according to Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.
Because of the “give and take” nature of Wednesday’s gathering, House GOP aides anticipate it will be more of a listening session and that no decisions on strategy should be expected afterward.
“This is a start to a conversation that is not going to be solved in just one meeting,” the leadership aide said. “Coming away with something tangible that we’re ready to move on, hey, it could happen. But we’re going in to really express what some ideas are but also get the pulse of the conference.”
Unlikely as it may be that a concrete plan evolves as a direct result of the Wednesday meeting, some members are heartened by the fact that they are going to have the chance to speak directly to leadership, and they believe they are actually going to be listened to.
“Remember that, at the beginning of the 113th Congress, our speaker changed his strategy,” Fleming said. “Instead of dealing behind closed doors with the president and getting bad results, we were finally able to convince him that this should be a more organic process involving members directly in the decision.”
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., meanwhile, said he wasn’t quite sure what to expect on Wednesday.
“I don’t know what leadership’s game plan is,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re there to listen to us, or if they’re there to give a sales pitch to us, or if they’re there to listen to us but resort back to whatever the sales pitch would be. Time will tell.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.