Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.
A trio of Tea Party Caucus Republicans in the Senate are taking a stand on out-of-control government spending, insisting they will vote no – or even filibuster – on any attempt to permit a raise in the federal debt ceiling.
Late last month, according to a Washington Post report, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., became the first to declare his refusal to vote for a raise the debt limit and continued borrowing beyond the $14.3 trillion in the federal government has already accumulated.
“To date, you have provided little or no leadership on what I believe is the most important issue facing our nation – our national debt,” Moran wrote in a letter to President Obama. “With no indication that your willingness to lead will change, I want to inform you I will vote ‘no’ on your request to raise the debt ceiling.”
Then last week, Moran was joined by Caucus members Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., both of whom are now threatening to filibuster the required congressional vote to raise the amount Uncle Sam can borrow.
“That’s my intention, to filibuster it,” Lee told his supporters in Utah, according to a report in The Hill.
Lee has said he will consider dropping the filibuster – which may put a raise in the debt limit out of reach for Democrats, whose 53 votes fall short of the 60 needed to break filibuster – if the Senate passes a “major” concession, such as a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In a fundraising message to his supporters, DeMint echoed the same strategy:
“If we’re willing to draw a line in the sand and refuse to increase the debt limit unless the House and Senate pass the new Balanced Budget Amendment,” DeMint said, “we can win a major victory for the American people and begin the process of stopping the massive spending, takeovers and debt that are destroying our country.”
The Balanced Budget Amendment, proposed by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., would cap spending at a percentage of gross domestic product, while allowing the balanced-budget requirement to be waived upon vote in both chambers during a declared war.
While approval of the amendment would require Republicans to drum up 67 votes in the Senate for approval, DeMint insists Democrats may have an even more difficult time finding 60 senators to break his filibuster.
“Democrat Leader Harry Reid will have to find 60 votes to increase the debt limit,” wrote DeMint. “There are 53 Democrats in the Senate today but at least eight of them know that voting with Reid will guarantee their defeat in the 2012 elections. That means Reid will have to find up to 15 Republicans to raise the debt limit.”
Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, has organized the “No More Red Ink” campaign to bring the same level of commitment from the House of Representatives that DeMint, Lee and Moran have shown in the Senate.
Farah’s “No More Red Ink” campaign is a high-tech, grass-roots lobbying effort targeting only House Republicans, who, he points out, hold all the cards with regard to derailing any effort to raise the debt limit. After deluging House Republicans with nearly 1 million letters urging them to say no to more borrowing, a majority of the Republican members have gone on the record opposing a hike in the debt limit beyond $14.3 trillion – a figure about to be reached in the next 30 days.
“All it takes is 218 votes in the House to force the government to start living within its means right now,” says Farah. “We don’t need another phony 10-year plan. We need a one-year plan. If it means eliminating Obamacare, so be it. If it means eliminating the Department of Education, so be it. If it means eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency and Planned Parenthood funding and PBS and NPR subsidies, so be it. This is an opportunity for Republicans to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. One vote accomplishes everything they have been telling us they favor.”
Since the “No More Red Ink” campaign began, dozens of House Republicans have defected from House Speaker John Boehner’s position, leaving at last count by WND, only 20 Republicans supporting an increase in the debt limit.
The latest tally shows 142 House Republicans opposing a raise in the $14.3 trillion debt limit with only 20 favoring it. Another 39 are undecided, while 40 say they would only vote to raise the debt limit with conditions, such as agreement on major cuts, entitlement reform of a balance budget agreement.
The survey included contact by email or phone with all GOP House staffers, or a reliance on recent public statements by members. It was conducted last week.
A WND survey taken in early March showed 122 House Republicans opposed to raising the debt limit under any circumstances with 23 favoring it.
“This is a remarkable change and shows Americans still have a chance at stopping the borrowing-and-spending madness in Washington in the near term,” said Farah. “We are effectively moving House Republicans against raising the debt limit – and they are beginning to realize this is where their real power is.”
Since approval of both houses of Congress is required to raise the debt limit, this is one of the very few meaningful actions the Republican-controlled House can take without the consent of the Senate or the White House, Farah says.
He has called it the Republicans’ “secret weapon.”
Members of the media who would like to interview Joseph Farah about this story can email [email protected]