Boehner vs. the RSC on Debt Limit

Flores is considering a speaker bid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner has signaled an interest in raising the debt ceiling before he resigns, but the Republican Study Committee is drawing its own conservative line in the sand in advance of the Nov. 3 deadline.  

The RSC released on Tuesday its "Terms of Credit Act," a multipart plan that addresses the debt limit by "tackling the root drivers of our growing national debt," according to the group's statement. While it has no chance of approval in the Senate or by the president, the timing of the legislation's unveiling is significant, and not just because the debt ceiling needs to be raised in a matter of weeks.  

RSC Chairman Bill Flores of Texas has said he will run for speaker should Ways and Means Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., sit the race out. Ryan's decision could be known as early as Tuesday night, with the GOP conference holding a special meeting at 7 p.m.  

As a sizable contingent of members of the House GOP conference clamor for more conservative and inclusive representation in the leadership ranks, Flores is presenting a plan he hopes will resonate with colleagues.  

Through a series of provisions, the bill would, according to the RSC, increase the debt limit by $1.5 trillion, which would eliminate the need for another a debt ceiling increase until "about" March 2017.  

Among other things, the bill would set up a process to require lawmakers to make good on the priorities set forth in the yearly, non-binding budget resolutions.  

If authorizing committees don't successfully "follow through" on producing legislation that hits certain targets outlined in a given budget blueprint, then a process is triggered to allow the Rules Committee and stakeholders on other congressional panels to consider amendments to accomplish that goal. If that doesn't work, any lawmaker would be permitted to force a vote on the House floor that would cut spending in a specific area.  

Other provisions would require a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment, a 21-month freeze on "burdensome federal regulation[s]," and, after Oct. 1, a change to Senate rules to allow appropriations bills to pass by simple majority rather than via a 60-vote threshold Democrats routinely block.  

That filibuster reality will ultimately keep this bill from passing in the Senate — though even if it was considered in the House and was able to sail through the other chamber it would still be vetoed by President Barack Obama.  

The House will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the legislative agenda over the next few weeks, where the debt limit and speaker elections are likely to come up, if even in passing.

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