The No. 2 Republicans in the House and Senate want details from the White House on the debt ceiling a day before they and other congressional leaders are set to huddle with Vice President Biden to work on a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) wrote in a letter to Biden on Tuesday that in order for the talks to be constructive, President Obama should submit his own deficit-reduction plan and give details on the amount he needs to raise the debt ceiling.
“... We anticipate that the President will submit a request outlining the amount requested to increase the debt limit, along with any policy proposals to reduce spending and reform the budget process,” Kyl and Cantor wrote.
The White House submit the information “either in legislative form or sufficiently detailed for review and scoring” by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the letter said.
In a speech at George Washington University last month, Obama sketched out a framework for reducing the national debt by $4 trillion over 12 years and called on Congress to reach “a final agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit” before voting on raising the country’s debt limit this summer.
While Obama’s proposal has not been scored by the CBO, an independent analysis by the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Budget projected that the country would borrow $7 trillion over the next decade under the plan.
The letter by Kyl and Cantor appears to be an effort to put the ball back in Obama’s court on the eve of the Blair House deficit talks. The outlook for the negotiations has been dim, in large part because leaders on each side have tapped strong partisans to represent them.
While congressional Republicans have stated that a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan should precede any vote on the debt limit, they have yet to submit a deficit plan of their own.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently warned Congress that defaulting on the nation’s debts later this summer “would have a catastrophic economic impact,” even as he informed lawmakers that the deadline for raising the debt ceiling has been extended until Aug. 2.
That means that lawmakers have 25 more days than expected to wage the debt limit fight. Even so, both sides have endeavored to draw sharp contrasts on the issue.
The latest twist came on Tuesday, when Cantor told reporters that House Republican leaders are open to the possibility of holding a “clean” vote on the debt limit, or a vote not linked to any deficit-reduction plan, to demonstrate that such a measure would not pass the House. Democrats have pushed for such a vote, but on Tuesday Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who has been the leading proponent of a “clean” raising of the debt limit, accused Cantor of engaging in a “political stunt.”