House GOP Challenges Obama on Debt Limit
In power scarcely a day, House Republicans bluntly told the White House on Thursday its request to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit will require federal spending cuts to win their approval, laying down an early marker in a new era of divided government.
Speaker John Boehner made the challenge as the new GOP majority voted to cut funding for House members’ own offices and committee operations by $35 million. Rank and file Republicans described that vote as a mere down payment on a much more ambitious assault on record federal deficits.
“It’s not massive,” first-term Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said of Thursday’s cut. “But it is monumental.”
At a news conference, Boehner, R-Ohio, also said emphatically he was standing by a pre-election pledge to cut government spending by at least $100 billion this year. “No ifs, ands or buts about it,” he said, despite recent comments from other Republicans the total might be overly ambitious.
The Republicans who took control of the House on Wednesday include dozens of newcomers elected last fall with the support of tea party activists eager for a smaller, less intrusive government. And Thursday’s events suggested a bone-jarring struggle could be mere weeks away as conservative lawmakers use the Treasury’s need for more borrowing authority to try and extract concessions from President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.