For the GOP leadership, a crucial task will be to bring along enough Democrats to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass a balanced-budget amendment. Doing so would put enormous pressure on the White House in the negotiations, even if the measure is dead on arrival in the Senate, as many believe.
Rep. Bill Flores (R., Texas), another freshman who supported the April budget deal but has now signed on to “Cut, Cap and Balance,” thinks party leaders will find a way forward. “They understand what it’s going to take to get the Republican conference to vote for a deal,” he says. “I feel fairly confident that they will not agree to anything where they know they can’t deliver the votes.”
“Currently, there is not a single debt-limit proposal that can pass the House of Representatives,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said in a statement Wednesday urging the president to put a proposal in writing. At this point, one has to wonder if there is any
proposal that could pass the House. Tellingly, the conversation has shifted: It’s no longer about what kind of deal would be acceptable, but about what happens if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by the administration’s August 2 deadline. On Wednesday, Reps. Bachmann, Steve King (R., Iowa), and Louie Gohmert (R., Texas) unveiled legislation to prioritize payments to members of the military and to paying interest on the federal debt to ensure the nation does not default.
And unless things change dramatically in the coming days and weeks, there could very well be no deal for the “no” caucus to oppose.
— Andrew Stiles is a 2011 Franklin Fellow.