At a press conference this afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner said the leaders of both parties who privately agreed to the latest debt ceiling deal have a responsibility to make sure the bill passes. In general, Republican leadership sounded confident the deal will pass the House (and in a post-press-conference interview GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, who plans to vote “no” on the deal, also said she expects the bill to pass).
But top House Republicans still sounded anxious to make the case for the poorly-received compromise to their conservative base. The deal represents an important directional change, they said — and tees up the fights over potential tax increases and a balanced budget amendment to come.
“When you look at what we’ve been able to achieve, we’ve been consistent,” Boehner said. “We’ve worked with our members and the American people, who have a real interest in ensuring that we don’t end up in this position again. … This is really important for our fiscal future, but it’s also important for the fact that our economy needs to get going. [We think this will lead to] more confidence for employers in America, the people we expect to reinvest in the economy.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor echoed Boehner in his support for the bill. Cantor also emphasized a cultural shift in the country and reiterated his opposition to tax hikes.
“By sending to Congress 87 new people, the American people have … changed the direction this country’s headed,” Cantor said. “From Day 1, this administration has been insisting that we raise taxes in order to solve this problem. … I think the big win here for us is that there are no tax hikes in this deal. I insist again that now is not the time for us to be considering tax hikes when there’s over 9 percent unemployment and too many people are out of work.”
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, too, said the bill represents a change.
“What a difference a year makes,” McCarthy said. “A year ago, Washington thought we needed more spending. … This bill does not give all the answers, but this bill does bring accountability. This does bring in spending controls. This does cut spending. It does not increase it. … This represents a fundamental change for this government, a fundamental change for this country.”
Budget Committee Chariman Paul Ryan reminded listeners of the distance traveled over the course of the negotiations.
“Think about where we were at the beginning of this process,” Ryan said. “We had a president asking for a blank check: He didn’t get that. We had a president who asked for tax increases: He didn’t get that. We said we wanted cuts: We got that. … We couldn’t even get caps on discretionary spending the last time Republicans were in the majority: We got that. We’ve got a long ways to go. This does not fix our problems, but the value of this Republican majority was to change the culture … in spending and that’s exactly what this bill does.”