McConnell Pulls Back BBA

by Robert Costa

The e-mail hit reporters’ in-boxes earlier this evening. Subject header: “POSTPONED: GOP Senators to Unveil Balanced Budget Amendment to Constitution.” Senators Kyl, Hatch, Lee, Cornyn, and Toomey had plans to announce a proposal for a balanced–budget amendment tomorrow at noon, but suddenly it was off. What happened?

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted more consensus, according to sources familiar with the deliberations.

The five senators planning the press conference have been working to merge a Hatch-Cornyn proposal with a Lee-Kyl proposal. That’s what they planned to announce tomorrow. Today they met with members of the GOP’s balanced-budget working group to discuss final details.

One aide tells us that McConnell urged the members at the working-group to take more time building support for the measure within the entire conference before unveiling the proposal. “He argued that it will be more powerful if we are working with the House when we introduce the [balanced-budget amendment] and that it will be more powerful if we have all 47 Republicans on board, so we need to start gathering cosponsors.”

“[McConnell] wants something all senate Republicans can get behind,” says another aide. “The question is: is that possible? And how long do we keep working within this group before just moving forward on our own?” After today’s talk, the aide adds, “a bunch of senators wanted more discussions, so the news conference was postponed.”

More as it develops . . .