Tea Party Coalition Rejects Boehner's Debt Proposal (UPDATE)
UPDATE: 4:10 p.m. -- A coalition of Tea Party chapters and conservative lawmakers on Monday rejected the debt proposal put forward by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), despite his efforts to sweeten the deal with provisions favored by his conservative base.
The Cut, Cap, Balance Coalition, which boasts hundreds of Tea Party groups and more than 100 GOP lawmakers in its membership, is citing two provisions in Boehner's proposal that amount to deal-breakers: its call for creating a Congressional Commission and its inclusion of a balanced budget amendment that, according to the group, is only for show.
"A symbolic vote on a balanced budget amendment at some later time minimizes its importance, as it will not be tied to an increase in the debt ceiling," reads a statement from the coalition. "A BBA that allows a tax increase with anything less than a 2/3 supermajority is not a serious measure."
Conservatives were also rubbed the wrong way by Boehner's inclusion of a "Super Congress" in his plan. The new commission, composed of 12 members from both parties and both chambers, would be granted extraordinary new powers to fast-track legislation through both chambers without it being amended. The commission would be tasked with finding a minimum amount of spending cuts before Congress could proceed to a second increase in the debt ceiling next year.
"History has shown that such commissions, while well-intentioned, make it easier to raise taxes than to institute enduring budget reforms," reads the coalition's statement.
Boehner threw a bone to the Tea Party by wrapping a balanced budget amendment and spending caps into his final debt plan. But his specific proposal to hold a vote on a balanced budget amendment after lawmakers would be asked to vote to raise the debt ceiling isn't good enough for the group.
The coalition tried to soften the blow to Boehner by saying they aren't unhappy with him, but with his proposal.
"To be clear, we are not criticizing the Speaker," the statement explained. "However, we cannot support his framework, and we urge those who have signed the Pledge to oppose it and hold out for a better plan."
Joseph Bretell, a spokesman for the coalition, told The Huffington Post he wouldn't speak for individual lawmakers, but that it is fair to say that the 51 lawmakers who signed the coalition's pledge are behind the group's statement.
"We put forward the pledge. They signed the pledge," said Bretell. "We certainly hope that having signed the pledge, they will hold out for a better plan than this one."
WASHINGTON -- Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will hand another win to the Tea Party on Monday when he rolls out a debt proposal to his conference that features some of conservatives' prized provisions: spending caps and a balanced budget amendment.
Boehner will pitch his latest plan, and possibly his final offering, to House Republicans during a closed meeting at 2 p.m. Details on the proposal have been vague since Boehner first floated it over the weekend; so far, reports have centered on his call for tying more than $3 trillion in deficit reduction to votes to raise the debt ceiling in two increments, by $900 billion initially and then by about $1.6 trillion next year.
But on Monday, a senior GOP aide confirmed that Boehner is adding language to require spending caps as well as a vote on a constitutional amendment that would force the government to balance its books every year. Both of these provisions are core pieces of the Tea Party-backed "Cut, Cap and Balance" proposal that cleared the House but failed to pass in the Senate last week -- after drawing strong opposition from Democrats and the White House.
Sequentially, Boehner's latest plan would require lawmakers to vote to raise the debt ceiling now and then, in a few months, require a vote on the balanced budget amendment. The second vote to raise the debt limit would take place next year. Some conservatives may not be thrilled about being asked to vote on the debt ceiling before the constitutional amendment, but by spreading out the votes, it allows GOP leaders more time to trumpet their fiscal agenda among conservatives ahead of the 2012 elections.
Boehner's move to put spending caps and the balanced budget amendment back on the table will almost certainly complicate what are already delicate negotiations going on with Democrats and the White House. Both have slammed Boehner's plan for seeking a short-term debt ceiling hike that requires two votes spread out over time. By contrast, they are pushing for a single vote now to raise the ceiling until after the 2012 elections.
Lawmakers have until Aug. 2 to move past partisan disagreements and pass something. On that date, the government is expected to run out of money to pay its bills. In the meantime, attention is already turning to the financial markets to watch for reactions to the general disarray in Congress over the issue.
Ahead of the 2 p.m. conference, Boehner signaled on Twitter that "Cut, Cap and Balance" will be heavily reflected in his latest debt proposal.
"The GOP will forge a solution consistent with the principles of the balanced & bipartisan #CutCapBalance plan that passed the House," tweeted Boehner.
House GOP leaders are expected to post their legislation online on Monday evening, which sets it up for a floor vote sometime on Wednesday.