House Democrats: Debt crisis shows ‘tea party is not fit to govern’

A trio of House Democratic leaders on Friday seized on the tumult among the House Republicans over Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) debt-ceiling plan, arguing that the GOP move to revise the measure to get more conservative support demonstrates the tea party movement’s shortcomings.

“I think in the last 24 hours, we’ve confirmed what many people suspected, which is that the tea party Republicans may be a noisy and effective protest movement, but they’re unfit to govern,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said at a news conference with House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) and Vice-Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.).

“They’re unfit to govern, and it is time for Speaker Boehner to do what he called for himself some time ago, which is to have that ‘adult moment.’”

Van Hollen, who made the remarks at a news conference after a House Democratic closed caucus meeting, charged that Boehner was “moving in the wrong direction” by revising his debt-ceiling framework to require that Congress send to the states a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution before it is allowed to raise the debt ceiling early next year.

“He’s now taking the bill, which was unacceptable and won’t pass in its original form, back to the Rules Committee to make it even more extreme, to cater again to the tea party wing of the Republican Party,” Van Hollen said. “That’s not going to get us where we need to go.”

House Republicans defended the re-worked Boehner plan Friday morning, arguing that it is the best way for lawmakers to ensure that future Congresses keep the country’s fiscal house in order.

Few, if any, Democrats are expected to support the Boehner plan when it comes up for a vote Friday evening. As the debt-ceiling deadline nears, both parties have sought to blame the other for placing the status of negotiations in peril at the eleventh hour.

Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) said that the Boehner plan was “the right way to go.”

“It prevents default; it gets the cuts. We still invite the president to put forward a proposal if he’s got one,” he said.

Larson, meanwhile, charged that Republicans had brought about “an ideological, manufactured crisis no longer controllable by the speaker.”

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