A “kitchen sink” proposal of demands in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, which includes a long list of Republican policy priorities, received a mixed response from House conservatives, with several senior lawmakers embracing the plan while some of rank-and-file hardliners criticized its focus.
“It definitely has a lot of goodies in it – things that arguably would grow the economy and arguably would generate revenue. But still you have to address the spending problem,” said Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama.
“The reason that we have to raise the debt ceiling is because we have deficits. The reason that we have deficits is because we spend a whole lot more money than we bring in in revenue. And this debt-ceiling package does not fix the underlying cause of the problem, which are the deficits,” he added.
Representative Joe Barton of Texas also gave an impassioned speech in the meeting about how the proposal was not the strategy Republicans had agreed to at a now-famous meeting in Williamsburg, Va., where House leadership vowed to use the next debt-ceiling fight to put the government on a “path” to balancing the budget in ten years, in exchange for a temporary extension of the limit this spring.
Despite the criticisms, the plan received accolades from several key conservative voices, including House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling, and Representative Tom Price.
Ryan spoke in behalf of the plan in the meeting and Price told reporters afterwards it “puts us on the path” to balancing the budget in ten years, in line with the Williamsburg agreement.
“I expect Republicans to be united,” Hensarling said.
The plan unveiled in the meeting includes a one-year delay of Obamacare, approval of the Keystone Pipeline, relatively modest entitlement and health-care reforms, and a grab bag of “jobs” proposals including tort reform.
Leadership is planning to whip the plan before unveiling it to the public, which is prompting discussion about waiving its “three day” rule proscribing a waiting period before new legislation can be brought to the House floor.
In the closed-door meeting, Speaker John Boehner did not reveal any details on his strategy for the government-funding bill currently under consideration in the Senate, although in a press conference afterwards he rule out simply passing a “clean” CR.
“I don’t see that happening,” Boehner said.