Support for the conservative-backed balanced budget amendment continued to gain steam Tuesday as Republican leaders argued it should be a part of the “long-term solution” to reducing the federal debt.
The freshmen have been pushing for a balanced budget amendment as a condition of their support for a debt ceiling increase. Though the dialogue among leaders has been more focused on the size of a deficit reduction package, the message from leaders today suggests they’ve heard the new class.
The balanced budget amendment will be brought to the floor for a vote next week.
“There’s a greater and greater emphasis on the balanced budget amendment to the constitution being tied to any greater debt ceiling increase,” said Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) “That is coming from the ground up.”
Republican leaders held a conference meeting with the GOP Tuesday morning to discuss the details of potential spending cuts leaders are discussing, slam the White House for what they claimed was an insistence on tax increases and reaffirm their opposition to any plan that includes new revenues.
After the meeting, Speaker John Boehner laid out three conditions the Republicans were hoping to get out of the negotiations “The spending cuts have to be larger than the increase in the debt ceiling,” he said. “Secondly there are no tax increases on the table. And thirdly, we have to have real controls in place to make sure this never happens again. Real controls like a balanced budget amendment.”
“I think everybody in that room will vote for it,” said Steve Stivers (R-Ohio.) “It’s important. We need structural change,” he said, predicting that structural change “has to be part of the final deal.”
But a balanced budget amendment will be a tough sell. It requires a two-thirds majority to pass the House, and unlike the version passed in 1995, it will require a two-thirds majority to increase tax revenues, a provision Democrats are strongly opposed to.
The freshmen also displayed a deep distrust of the president, who urged leaders of their party “eat their peas” and make politically risky sacrifices to find an agreement on the debt.
“Nobody in that room believes it. We don’t believe him,” said Joe Walsh (R-Ill), arguing that the president is a late-comer to the deficit reduction debate. “This guy comes in at the last minute and says eat your peas? He’s embarrassing. He’s clueless, just clueless.”
Rep. Allen West said he wanted to be sure the spending cuts leaders were negotiating weren’t “fairy dust spending cuts” that amounted to smaller reductions than initially advertised, which kept some leaders from voting for the continuing resolution earlier this year.