WASHINGTON — A group of House Republicans met Tuesday at a conservative think tank for an event billed as Conversations with Conservatives – and Wednesday’s House vote on extending the debt limit topped their agenda.
Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said extending the debt limit would be beneficial in the long run because the bill requires that Congress pass a budget by April 15.
“I’ve actually had members…those in power, look me in the eye and say, ‘This House will produce a budget that balances in 10 years,’” Schweikert said at the Heritage Foundation event.
The House has passed budget resolutions for the past two years, but the Senate hasn’t passed a budget for the past four. The “no budget no pay” provision of the bill specifies that if either the House or the Senate fails to pass a budget, those lawmakers’ pays would be withheld.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said he, too, will vote to pass the bill.
“I’m actually okay with what leadership is doing right now because they actually have an agenda,” Labrador said.
Labrador asserted there will be a balanced budget in 10 to15 years with a “little help” from Democrats. He cited Sen. Chuck Schumer’s appearance on “Meet The Press,” during which Schumer said the Senate will pass a budget, as a sign that the GOP pressure is getting to Democrats.
However, Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Justin Amash, R-Mich., are leaning against the debt limit extension and Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said he has questions after reading the bill and will only vote for it if they are answered.
Another focus of the event was the tax code. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., said reforms to close loopholes for big business were heavily discussed at last week’s GOP retreat in Williamsburg, Va. Huelskamp said the main takeaway was the distinction between Wall Street and “Main Street.”
“Clearly with our last election the Republicans looked like the party of Wall Street,” Huelskamp said. “It doesn’t start at Wall Street, it starts out at main street with small businesses.”
Although fiscal matters received most of the attention at the meeting, the congressional hearings on Benghazi featuring testimony from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton planned for Wednesday came up as well. Duncan will take part in the questioning and said he believes Americans’ questions will be answered. He said he, too, has questions, especially after hearing of proposed U.S. intervention in Algeria.
“What about going after the guys that killed our ambassador?” Duncan said.
Dissatisfaction with the handling of the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi was not the only complaint about President Barack Obama.
Schweikert said Obama’s references to climate change in his inaugural speech were just him “throwing a bone” to left wing activist groups. He also said after reading the speech, he thought it was identical to any other leftist speech he has ever read.
The members of Conversations with Conservatives made clear their hopes for action. Massie said it’s time to change the GOP political plan.
“I think our strategy right now is to play rope-a-dope until 2014, and I think we need to go on the offensive.”