WASHINGTON – Just two and a half hours before a scheduled final vote on House Speaker John Boehner’s bill that would make drastic cuts to the federal budget while authorizing an increase in the government’s borrowing authority, Minnesota freshman Republican Chip Cravaack says he’s still undecided about how he will vote.
Cravaack wouldn’t speak to reporters outside his office last night, nor would he speak today with Washington-based reporters from Minnesota news outlets. As he entered the House chamber and was asked whether he had come to a decision, Cravaack said, “I haven’t yet, I’m sorry,” and continued on.
Boehner’s debt ceiling bill has become a litmus test for House Republicans. Fiscal conservatives and tea party sympathizers rebelled against the bill, denying the Speaker the needed votes for passage last night. For the past several days, Boehner’s leadership team has been whipping for votes and Cravaack and the 25 or so other insurgents have been plied with a combination of threats and inducements to vote the party line.
Speaking this morning on KTLK, Cravaack said he opposed Boehner’s original proposal, which has now been amended to include a vote on a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. Cravaack seem favorably disposed to the addition of that amendment.
Some tea party groups have viewed the Boehner plan with suspicion, seeing it as not going far enough with spending cuts. Indeed, one of the KTLK hosts asked Cravaack why he couldn’t tell the House leadership, “We don’t care what you do, we’re not voting for an increase in the debt ceiling?”
“We could,” Cravaack replied. “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.”