Keep Sequester, Shutdown 'On Table'
GOP leaders on Thursday heard from rank-and-file members in a closed-door session, with many urging sequester cuts or a government shutdown to take effect in hopes of forcing the White House into accepting spending cuts.
Those options are “very much on the table,” veteran Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) told reporters on Thursday, from Virginia, where House GOP lawmakers are meeting for their annual retreat.
According to several sources, during the members-only brainstorming session, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) delivered “concise” remarks before opening the microphones to member feedback...
The discussion has been “open and free-wheeling,” a GOP source in the room added.
Nearly 70 members lined up to share their thoughts on strategies to deal with the trifecta of fiscal deadlines awaiting Congress and the White House. GOP staffers were kicked out of the discussion...
Members floated a broad range of ideas for leadership to consider as they hope to force spending cuts or entitlement reform.
Twenty-five lawmakers spoke in the morning session, floating ideas including not replacing the looming $1.2 trillion in sequestration cuts taking effect in March, allowing the government to shut down or allowing Treasury to default.
Cole said there was much discussion about “whether sequester is a better way to do this because there's clearly elements that we don't like in sequester, but I would tell you that the majority of our conference is quite prepared to go there if they don't see something else.”
“They want to do something dramatic,” he added.
Boehner mentioned that possibility himself in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, in which the Speaker said he had sequestration “in his back pocket.”
Republicans also fear they will encounter a similar situation to the recent fiscal cliff stand-off, in which the Senate fails to act on House-passed bills and the president waits until the last moment to become engaged with Congress.
The goal of the battles to come, as one high-ranking GOP leadership aide explained, “is to force a process where the House acts, the Senate acts and the two bodies work it out.”
Influential GOP lawmakers such as former vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) say that the House wants to “force” the Senate to act independently on extending the debt limit, rearranging the sequestered cuts and extending current government funding, but many lawmakers and aides concede privately that it will be difficult to do so...
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), told his colleagues that he favored passing a balanced budget amendment, “if the president wants to pass a debt-ceiling increase.”
Leaders will cull the GOP rank-and-file ideas, given the expedited time line, and will likely come back to their members with a plan in the next week.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 01/17/2013
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