Republican lawmakers will make a political statement this week, before considering legislation to raise the debt limit that stands a chance of passing.As both parties seek to ensure the government can pay its obligations on August 3, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives vote will on a balanced budget amendment followed by the proposal introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV), which would shift the burden of raising the debt limit to President Barack Obama.
The Republican “cut, cap, and balance,” legislation would begin the process of amending the Constitution to peg annual federal spending to a certain percentage of GDP. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) have both said it is a prerequisite to passing a debt ceiling increase.
But they and their Democratic counterparts know such a bill is little more than a political stunt that has absolutely no shot of passing the Senate.
Congressional leaders are hoping that once GOP conservatives have a chance to vote on the radical proposal, that it will free up more votes for the McConnell/Reid compromise, which can pass the Senate, but needs Republican votes in the House.
The bipartisan proposal would likely be amended to include $1.5 trillion in cuts agreed to by the Vice President Joe Biden-led deficit reduction group that adjourned last month.
The McConnell/Reid plan would create a bipartisan Congressional commission that would report back later this year with spending cuts and potentially new revenues, leaving the option open for a deficit reduction along the lines Obama wants to take place later this year.
Obama has said he does not back the “cut, cap, and balance,” package, saying “we don’t need a Constitutional amendment to do our jobs.” He would also prefer a larger deal on par with the $4 trillion “grand bargain” he and Boehner discussed two weeks ago.
That “big deal” is unlikely to materialise as lawmakers have made no progress overcoming the GOP’s opposition to tax increases to a deficit reduction deal.
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