Republicans press president, Senate to act on Cut, Cap, Balance

Amanda Carey Contributor
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Republican lawmakers are renewing their call for Democrats to advance a House-passed deficit reduction package.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, Thursday morning, sought to apply pressure on the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama to move forward on consideration of the Cut, Cap, Balance Act. Later, a group of 23 Republican House and Senate members held their own press conference during which they called for a debate on the CCB Act in the Senate and the president’s threat to veto the bill if passed, a political bluff. (ForAmerica’s Bozell: Republicans who support Gang of Six proposal ‘will walk the plank’)

“With all that’s at stake right now, it’s not enough to wish or to wait for a solution to materialize,” said Boehner. “Whatever you want to call that approach, it’s certainly not leadership. Republicans have laid out a responsible and detailed path forward and the House has passed it.  The Senate should now pass Cut, Cap and Balance.”

Boehner also tried to make the case that the legislation passed by the House Tuesday night fits with President Obama’s criteria for a “balanced” package that raises the debt limit and reduces the deficit.

“Listen, the ball continues to be in the President’s court, and it’s been there for some time,” said Boehner. “I think he needs to step up and work with us on spending cuts and reforms that the American people are demanding.”

The speaker declined to comment on what was discussed in his latest meeting with the president over the debt limit. Boehner has faced increasing pressure from conservative members of the House not to agree to tax increases or a deal that does not include enough spending cuts. However, when asked if he has prepared those members that any deal will involve necessary compromises, Boehner said “I have”.

Top leaders from the House and Senate met with President Obama Wednesday to continue discussions on raising the debt limit. The Senate is expected to vote on the Cut, Cap, Balance bill this Saturday, though it is not likely to pass.  And if it were to pass, the president has already said he would veto the legislation should it reach his desk.

When asked about the political realities of the bill, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said, “I will bet you a quarter house steak that when it lands on his [Obama’s] desk, he’ll sign this puppy … When he gets this bill, he will sign it.”

Coburn also pointed to Obama’s reversal on his promise not to sign a short-term debt-limit deal. “The President said he’d never take a short-term increase,” said Coburn. “What’d they say yesterday? They’ll take a short-term increase. That’s how good his veto threat is.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also said, “The political reality of this place is subject to changing on a dime … If you think that people in the House and people in the Senate that believe we’re going to become Greece if we don’t do something are going to give up because of polls, you’re wrong.”

Two other back-up deals are also under discussion. One, the McConnell-Reid plan, would give Obama the authority to ask for increases in three separate increments. The other, the bipartisan Gang of 6 proposal, reduces the deficit by $3.7 trillion over ten years.

Earlier this week, Obama signaled support for the “G6” plan. Republican members, however, criticized both back-up plans saying neither have been put into legislative language yet.

“It would be irresponsible on behalf of the Congress and President not to be looking at back-up strategies for how to solve this problem,” said Boehner Thursday.

The speaker also reacted to comments from Americans for Tax Reform’s president, Grover Norquist, who told the Washington Post that “not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase,” referring to the Bush tax cuts.

When asked about the comment, Boehner said “I believe that would be raising taxes.”