WASHINGTON (WWJ/AP) – House Republicans pushed ahead Tuesday toward a vote on legislation that would raise the nation’s debt limit in exchange for trillions of dollars in federal spending cuts and congressional approval of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.
But with the measure facing a veto threat from the White House, Speaker John Boehner said he was exploring other alternatives to avoid a government default threatened for Aug. 2.
“I do think it’s responsible for us to look at what Plan B would look like,” he said at a news conference a few hours before the opening of debate on the legislation backed by conservative lawmakers.
Advocates of the House legislation said it would cut spending by an estimated $111 billion in the next budget year and then by more than an additional $6 trillion over a decade — and require Congress to send a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution to the states for ratification — in exchange for raising the debt limit by $2.4 trillion.
Linking the raising of the national debt ceiling to any budget agreement is a move by Republicans to appease the most conservative of their ranks. Namely, the Tea Party.
That’s according to Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers of Detroit, who said Republicans should quit linking any budget agreement to the raising of the country’s debt ceiling.
“What makes this dangerous is that, for the first time, not raising the debt ceiling has been put in as a condition of resolving our budget responsibilities,” said Conyers.
“That’s like putting a loaded pistol on the table in a poker game,” he said.
Conyers says he believes the mood on Capitol Hill has changed a bit this week and a compromise agreement will be reached.
Michigan Congressman John Dingell says if there is no deal, there could be devastating effects.
“Seniors will not get social security checks. Doctors and hospitals will not get Medicare checks. Stock prices will almost certainly plummet. Housing prices will drop. Interest rates will rise,” said Dingell.
“There will be, almost certainly, job losses, and there will be questions of whether we can pay for veterans benefits,” he said.
Dingell says the salaries of retirees of the federal government and the military would also be affected.
There is an August 2nd deadline to raise the debt limit
The Associated Press contributed to this report.