Utah Sen. Mike Lee won't hold up debt compromise
Washington • Sen. Mike Lee and other members of the Tea Party Caucus say they will not try to delay a vote on a bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit by $2.4 trillion.
Just don't ask them to actually support the plan that also attempts to cut about $3 trillion in spending.
"It is not where I think it needs to be, but I'm not the only one with an opinion in this town. It looks like there will be enough people who disagree with me that this is likely to pass," said Lee, a freshman Republican from Utah.
Just weeks after taking office in January, Lee helped form the Tea Party Caucus and at its first meeting, he vowed to filibuster any vote to increase the government's ability to borrow money unless Congress first voted and passed a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
That is no longer possible before the government would default on its obligations, though the deal, struck between President Barack Obama and the leaders of both parties in Congress, does require a vote on a balanced budget amendment before the end of the year.
Senate leaders will pitch the plan to their members in caucus meetings Monday and could vote later in the day.
Lee will insist that at least 60 senators support the final plan. Sixty votes is the threshold to stop a filibuster and proceed to a final vote, which takes only 51 votes to pass legislation. But he won't use the power every senator has to demand a 30-hour debate under Senate rules, which would delay a vote until after the Aug. 2 deadline set by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
"We are right up against the deadline," Lee said. "I don't think we necessarily need or want to drag it out 30 hours before a vote in the Senate."
His fellow tea party senators, Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Jim DeMint, R-S.C., expressed a similar sentiment to reporters, though they also plan to vote against the deal.
"Well, I think there'll be quite a few people that will insist that it be a 60-vote margin," Paul told The Washington Post, "but I would probably agree to let the time waive."