The GOP’s large freshmen class appears to be largely supportive of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) debt bill that would raise the debt ceiling by $900 billion and cut nearly $917 billion over 10 years, signaling that what just a few days ago seemed certain to fail is looking more and more likely to pass.
Boehner was publicly confident that his party would coalesce around his legislation, spiritedly telling TPM that it would be a “Zippity-do-da day” before a closed-door meeting with his conference at the Capitol early Thursday morning. However, moments later he reportedly told his caucus that he didn’t have the votes yet.
Over 30 GOP freshmen, meanwhile, gathered at the steps of the Capitol to declare their unequivocal support for the legislation, highlighting that while certainly not perfect, the bill remained the only viable option for raising the debt limit and reining in the deficit.
“The leadership did not put pressure on us,” said Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS). “They just gave us the facts and the resources to come to a decision on our own. We had plenty of time to review it and that’s what we did. I was a whipped undecided and now I’m a yes.”
Many of the new members touted the historic nature of the spending cuts, saying that the very reason they ran for office was to reform the culture in Washington, and that this was exactly the opportunity to do so.
“We have a saying [in Tennessee] that says: ‘Get her done,’” said Rep. Diane Black (R-TN). “And they sent me here to get her done. And this is a part of getting her done.”
A key point conspicuously absent in their full-throated affirmation, however, was the fact that Speaker Boehner’s bill and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) bill largely resemble each other, barring the fact that Reid’s bill would raise the debt ceiling past 2012. Boehner, on the other hand, would raise it initially only until February, potentially creating another political crisis next year.
When asked by reporters if the GOP freshmen were comfortable with taking another vote so soon, they all declared in unison: “Absolutely.”
Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site's coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.