March 5, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER
Roll Call

Members Preview Budget Fight on Sunday Shows

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House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen said conservative Republicans should relax their demands for budget reforms in negotiating a debt limit increase.

The issue of deficits and spending dominated the talk show circuit Sunday, just as Members prepared to return to Washington from a two-week recess to tackle the issue of raising the debt limit.

House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen said it was reckless for some conservative Republicans to hinge their support for a debt limit increase on other budget reforms.

Should we work together to come up with a deficit-reduction plan? Yes. And we should do it now, the Maryland Democrat said on CNNs State of the Union. But nobody should take the position that if they dont get 100 percent of what they want in terms of deficit reduction, that they are going to threaten to put people out of work. Thats just reckless.

Appearing on the same program, Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Barrasso said some conditions will have to be met in order for President Barack Obama to win some GOP support.

Im not ready to give the president what he wants, the Wyoming Republican said. And what the president is asking for is a blank check and a new credit card. And thats absolutely irresponsible. We need to quit the spending and cap the spending.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has said she wont vote to raise the nations debt ceiling unless the health care overhaul enacted last year is defunded, said she also wants the United States to focus on paying off its debt first.

Dont let anyone tell you that by increasing the debt limit the ability for the federal government to keep borrowing that somehow thats going to show the world that were even more creditworthy, because were borrowing, the Minnesota Republican said on Fox News Sunday.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin has responded that prioritizing payments to investors over other U.S. obligations would be default by another name. Well, thats his opinion, Bachmann responded Sunday, insisting that she is not advocating defaulting.

Ongoing budget talks between two groups the Senates gang of six and Vice President Joseph Bidens newly formed bicameral and bipartisan budget working group will also draw attention over the next few weeks. The three Republicans and three Democrats in the Senate working group have kept their discussions under wraps, and member Kent Conrad offered no hints Sunday of what they might unveil.

I can say weve made enormous progress in the group, and I hope that were able to announce an agreement soon, the North Dakota Democrat, who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said on Fox News Sunday. If we dont, were simply not going to be relevant, because this debate marches on.

He added that hes optimistic that the group will put forth a plan. Look, I have spent eight months on the commission the [presidents] fiscal commission, he said. I have spent five months in this negotiation. I wouldnt have spent all this time if I didnt think there was a serious chance of reaching an agreement.

Conrad said he was not prepared to weigh in on a proposal that would cap deficits, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has endorsed. Conrad said he first needs to see the details, but ultimately he wants a comprehensive plan that includes tax and spending reforms.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, appearing on the same program, challenged Conrads bipartisan group to release an alternative to the budget resolution authored by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which the lower chamber passed along party lines last month.

Weve got an unsustainable system when it comes to Medicare, the South Carolina Republican said. What Paul Ryan did, he saved it from what I believe to be a complete failure over time. If you can get a better way to do it, do it. But just criticizing someone who is trying to fix a problem doesnt impress me. Youve got a better alternative, put it on the floor and lets vote on it.

Ryans plan doesnt have the votes to pass in the Senate, Graham added. Ryan, who appeared on ABCs This Week on Sunday, acknowledged his plan could hurt us politically. But, he said, I dont care about that.

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