WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Thursday that Congress will raise the debt ceiling, making him the latest in a series of top-level Republicans who have stepped back from the threatened debt ceiling standoff.
"We will raise the debt ceiling. We're not going to default on our debt," Cornyn told the Houston Chronicle editorial board. "I will tell you unequivocally, we're not going to default."
"You sometimes try to inject a little doubt in your negotiating partner about where you're going to go, but I would tell you unequivocally that we're not going to default," he added.
Cornyn's office later pushed back against the suggestion that he was folding completely, saying that he still wants to extract federal budget spending cuts in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling.
"Sen. Cornyn does not support giving the President a blank check on the debt ceiling," said Cornyn spokeswoman Megan Mitchell in an email to The Huffington Post on Friday.
President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats have called for a "clean" increase in the debt ceiling, without any accompanying spending cuts.
Still, Cornyn's remarks were a far cry in tone from his Jan. 4 Houston Chronicle op-ed, in which he wrote that a partial government shutdown may be necessary to "secure the long-term fiscal well being of our country." Cornyn declared, "The coming deadlines will be the next flashpoints in our ongoing fight to bring fiscal sanity to Washington."
Several notable Republicans, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) and Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), as well as conservative opinion leader Charles Krauthammer, have said the threat of default should come off the negotiating table.
On Friday, Cornyn's office also pointed to remarks that he made in Politico on Jan. 13, saying that the government could pay its bills with the revenue already coming in.
"We have more than enough revenues to service our debt," Cornyn told Politico. "And it may mean that some of the bills don't get paid as they come in or they get paid on a prorated basis until we resolve this dispute. It could be a matter of days or weeks or maybe even longer."
However, the Treasury Department has said that prioritizing the federal government's payments would be unprecedented and impossible.
"Treasury officials determined that there is no fair or sensible way to pick and choose among the many bills that come due every day. Furthermore, because Congress has never provided guidance to the contrary, Treasury's systems are designed to make each payment in the order it comes due," wrote the department's inspector general to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) after the last debt ceiling standoff in 2011.
UPDATE: 12:43 p.m. -- Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a Tea Party-backed congressman from conservative South Carolina, also backed off the threat of default in an appearance on Bloomberg TV.
"No, there is no risk of default. No one is talking about default. No one wants to default," Mulvaney said, adding that House Republicans were nearing consensus on the debt ceiling.
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