The GOP convened their annual retreat for House members on Thursday, and the message was clear: the party wants to present a unified front.
This may be more difficult than it sounds, since many in the GOP want to take a hard-line approach to spending cuts, urging the party to allow a government shutdown if necessary to force the Obama Administration to cut spending.
Rep. Tom Cole acknowledged that all options are “very much on the table.” The leaders of the GOP in the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) made brief speeches before turning the meeting over to the general assembly for feedback. Roughly 70 House members spoke; staffers were not present.
Some of the ideas considered were: letting the $1.2 trillion in sequestration cuts come to fruition in March, letting the government shut down, or letting the Treasury default. Cole said members discussed “whether sequester is a better way to do this because there’s clearly elements that we don’t like in sequester, but I would tell you that the majority of our conference is quite prepared to go there if they don’t see something else. They want to do something dramatic.”
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that the House wants to “force” the Senate to act independently on extending the debt limit, thus putting the Senate on the hook for the defense cuts incurred by sequestration.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) favored passing a balanced budget amendment “if the president wants to pass a debt-ceiling increase.”