WASHINGTON – After staying quiet yesterday as the House Republican leadership tried desperately to whip votes in favor of Speaker John Boehner’s plan to lift the government’s borrowing authority, freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack confirmed this morning that he opposed the Speaker’s bill.
In an interview with KTLK, Cravaack said, “We held the line,” arguing that Boehner’s plan didn’t go far enough in terms of spending cuts or reining in the ability of future Congresses to spend. Cravaack said he was encouraged by talk that votes on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would likely be part of any final package that House members vote on today. But his office said the 8th District congressman had still not made up his mind.
At least 25 House Republicans withheld their support for Boehner’s plan, depriving the Speaker of the 217 votes he needed for it to pass the House. No Democrats said they would vote for the bill. The Democratic-controlled Senate has vowed to reject the Speaker’s bill even if it clears the House.
Cravaack was not the only Minnesota Republican to defy the GOP leadership. Rep. Michele Bachmann has long opposed any increase in the debt ceiling and reiterated her opposition in a speech yesterday at the National Press Club.
In his KTLK interview, Cravaack was asked whether he could simply remain a no vote on the bill Cravaack replied, “We could. That’s always an option. That’s the nuclear option. But I would prefer to not use the nuclear option unless I have to go nuclear.”
Meanwhile, liberal groups have renewed their attacks on Cravaack. A coalition of labor unions is airing ads in Duluth with the not-so-subtle slogan, “If the Social Security Checks, Veterans’ Benefits, and Military Pay Minnesotans Are Counting On Don’t Arrive After August 2, Thank Chip Cravaack and the Republicans in Congress.”