House Dems Press Leadership To Insist On Clean Debt Limit Hike

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A group of progressive House Democrats is rounding up support for objecting to hiking the debt limit, if it includes GOP plans to slash spending on federal programs.

In a note to colleagues, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and several of his allies seek signatories to a letter to the Democratic leadership, urging them adopt a unified position among Democrats that using the fast-approaching debt limit and ensuing default as leverage to slash entitlements is a non-starter.

“We ask you to convene a caucus to discuss and establish a Democratic position in favor of a clean extension of the debt ceiling,” the letter reads.

The debt ceiling vote is about one thing: affirming that America pays its bills. It does not authorize new taxpayer obligations; it affirms to the world our commitment to pay obligations already incurred.

To do otherwise, or to threaten to do so, or to leverage our duty to pay our bills to achieve a partisan advantage in budget disputes, jeopardizes the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

Welch has over two dozen signatories thus far. The question is whether vulnerable and conservative Dems will side rhetorically with Republicans on the need to use the impending default to slash federal spending. But if a large block of Democrats refuses to vote to hike the debt ceiling in absence of a clean bill, Republicans will have to make good on an increasingly severe threatone that could backfire.

You can read the entire letter below.

Dear Democratic Leaders:

Congress will soon be required to vote on whether to extend the debt limit which, according to Secretary Geithner, will be breached by mid-May.

We ask you to convene a caucus to discuss and establish a Democratic position in favor of a clean extension of the debt ceiling.

The debt ceiling vote is about one thing: affirming that America pays its bills. It does not authorize new taxpayer obligations; it affirms to the world our commitment to pay obligations already incurred.

To do otherwise, or to threaten to do so, or to leverage our duty to pay our bills to achieve a partisan advantage in budget disputes, jeopardizes the full faith and credit of the United States of America.

Sincerely

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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