This expedited procedure allows Congress to raise the debt limit with only a third plus one votes in either the House or Senate, the threshold for sustaining a presidential veto – saving many lawmakers a difficult, but necessary vote.
The next stage empowers a new legislative commission – six Republicans and eight Democrats – to find an additional $1.8 trillion in spending cuts, that would include cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which is a nonstarter for Democrats. If passed, this second-stage vote also opens the door to a presidential request to raise the debt ceiling through 2012, also on a fast track.
Finally, the GOP plan requires a vote in both the House and Senate on a balanced-budget amendment to the US Constitution. The House GOP’s cut, cap, and balance measure set a higher threshold – requiring that Congress pass a balanced budget amendment and send it on to the states for ratification.
“While I thank the Speaker for fighting for Republican principles, I cannot support the plan that was presented to House Republicans this afternoon,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R) of Ohio, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, the conservative wing of the Republican caucus.
“The credit rating agencies have been clear that no matter what happens with the debt limit, the US will lose its AAA credit rating unless we produce a credible plan to reduce the debt by trillions of dollars,” he added, in a statement. “Cut, cap, and balance is the only plan on the table that meets this standard.”