With the country less than a week away from potentially defaulting on its debt, South Carolina’s Republican delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives is going against party leadership.
According to multiple media outlets, Trey Gowdy (pictured), Jeff Duncan, Joe Wilson and Tim Scott have opposed House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise the debt ceiling and stave off default.
It was thought that the bill would go to a vote on Thursday evening. But when it was not certain that it would pass, the vote was called off. Negotiations are expected to continue throughout the day on Friday.
Boehner’s bill would not pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, which is working on its own bill under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But the passage of bills from both the House and Senate would give the chambers a starting point to begin negotiations on another bill that could eventually be sent to President Obama by Monday, one day before the default deadline of Aug. 2.
With 240 Republican members, Boehner was thought to have 24 more votes than he needs to pass legislation. However, in a showdown that will measure the true influence that the Tea Party wing of the party has, the Speaker discovered on Thursday that getting to a simple majority would prove to be a challenge.
Boehner’s proposal would cut $1.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years through spending cuts and raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2011. It would also create a 12-member group of representatives— dubbed a “Super Congress.” Before the debt ceiling could be raised again, an additional $1.8 trillion would have to be cut.
But it did not go far enough for Gowdy.
“While (Congressman Gowdy) respects the difficult job the Speaker has, his constituents want a solution that transcends election cycles,” said Gowdy’s spokesman Robert Hughes. Hughes also said Gowdy was opposed to the idea of a Super Congress.
Gowdy, along with the rest of the state’s congressmen, supported the “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill which passed in the House last week. That bill was defeated in the Senate.
Gowdy, Duncan, Wilson and Scott were all reported to be on the receiving end of intense lobbying from House leadership on Thursday.
But, none of them appeared ready to change their minds.
In a floor speech, the lone Democratic congressman, James Clyburn, admonished his Republican counterparts saying their plan was no plan at all and “just a game.” Clyburn was among those who called on President Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment to resolve the debt crisis. (Scott, for his part, called such a move an "impeachable act."
Should the debt ceiling not be raised it could have an immediate impact on South Carolina residents.
The state is more reliant on federal funding than all but a few states, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The state, whose AAA credit rating would also be in jeopardy, holds a number of bonds that have variable interest rates. Those interest rates are expected to rise in the event of a default.
Thus far, Wall Street has not reacted strongly to the debt crisis. How long that will continue is an open question.
The heads of Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Prudential signed a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders urging them not to let the country go into default.