Boehner calling for debt talks lacks Republican groundswell

Balanced Budget

Representatives Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma and Richard Hudson of North Carolina also called for a path to a balanced budget as a prerequisite for their support.

“If we’re just raising the debt ceiling willy-nilly and not solving the problem, then I can’t support that,” Bridenstine said. Hudson wants dollar-for-dollar cuts or significant changes and reductions to entitlement programs.

Representative Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, while giving no details, ruled out a clean debt-limit bill.

“If you are in debt and you got to get yourself out of that debt then you’d better start making cuts,” Mullin said in an interview. “If we are going to raise it, we got to have cuts.”

‘Winning Tactic’

Michael Needham, the chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, said his Washington-based political advocacy group, which promotes small government, wouldn’t object to a short-term debt ceiling increase. That move, he said, would keep the focus of the fight on derailing the 2010 health care law as a condition of ending the shutdown.

“The winning tactic right now on Obamacare is to focus on the C.R.,” he said today at a breakfast in Washington sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, using the abbreviation for continuing resolution, or short-term funding bill.

Representative Tom McClintock of California, who has sponsored a bill that requires Treasury to prioritize payments in the event of default, said he wanted to address the debt limit in “small increments within the trajectory” set by the House budget resolution, which erases the deficit in 10 years. The incremental increases would be paired with “incremental reforms necessary to remain on that trajectory.”

Paying Bills

The U.S. will have about $30 billion in cash after its borrowing authority is exhausted on Oct. 17. The country would be unable to pay all of its bills, including benefits, salaries and interest, sometime between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Obama, at his White House news conference, accused Republicans of “hostage-taking” with their demands, and insisted that future cuts be combined with Democrats’ priorities, such as closing corporate breaks and paying for “better education for kids.”

Boehner has had trouble holding his caucus together since becoming House speaker in January 2011. Uprisings by anti-tax Tea Party lawmakers doomed his effort to reach a budget deal with Obama that year and brought the U.S. to the brink of a possible default before lawmakers agreed to raise the debt limit, coupled with across-the-board budget cuts.

Boehner got his first proposal through the House that year on a 218-210 vote, with 22 Republicans voting against it. On the final bipartisan bill that became law, 66 Republicans voted no. Now, his Republican majority is smaller.

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