A leading congressional conservative said Republicans must not approve a “clean” debt increase later this year, saying it would be a betrayal of piled-up promises to voters to finally get a handle on the federal budget.
Rep. Mark Walker, chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, said the GOP must flex its muscle from controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House and insist that any debt hike be coupled with some new controls to convince voters the problem is being taken seriously.
The North Carolina congressman, in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner, also warned GOP leaders against turning to Democrats to pass a debt increase by loading it up “with even more increased spending.
“Ultimately, we need to take incremental steps to our ultimate goal: to eliminate the need for a debt ceiling increase at all. Ideally, we should not have to vote for a debt ceiling increase because the government lives within its means and produces a surplus,” Mr. Walker wrote.
The federal government has already bumped up against the $19.8 trillion debt limit and the Treasury Department is tapping a series of government funds to avoid a breach. The money in those funds will run out this fall, and without a debt increase the government would either need to impose immediate major cuts to spending or else default on some obligations.
The current debate is the first debt limit fight under the new unified Republican government, though GOP leaders are struggling to come up with a strategy.
In the past, when Democrats had control of the Senate and the White House, Republicans had insisted that any debt increase be coupled with spending cuts or other deficit controls. But even the GOP didn’t always live up to that goal, instead adopting “clean” increases that didn’t have any add-ons.
Now, Republican leaders are trying to figure out what they can find the votes for.
Democratic leaders in the past had demanded “clean” debt increases, but now they’ve signaled they won’t accept a clean increase if the GOP plans to enact tax cuts later this year.
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