Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., are joining forces to revive a plan to cut the deficit in half as the deadline for Congress to decide whether to increase the federal debt limit looms.
The lawmakers’ Cut, Cap, and Balance Act would slash $207 billion from the deficit in 2016 while capping spending at 18 percent of the gross domestic product, which Paul projected would balance the U.S. budget by 2021.
The bill would also add a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and carve out protections against spending cuts for Social Security, Medicare, military pay, and veterans’ benefits.
Paul said during a conference call with reporters Monday that he would vote to raise the nation’s borrowing limit if those conditions are met.
“I’ve always been of the position that you don’t raise the debt ceiling without significant reform,” Paul said. “If you just keep giving more credit to a government that is drunk on spending, it’s a big mistake.”
The legislation is a revamp of a similar push Paul spearheaded in 2011. That bill smoothly passed through the House but ended up failing in the Senate.
Mulvaney, a founder of the House Freedom Caucus, said the bill “clearly” has bipartisan support in the lower chamber and predicted that it would move through the House with substantial support, as it did in 2011.
Paul said its fate is less certain in the Senate.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has told Congress it has until Nov. 3 to raise the debt limit before the U.S. Treasury runs out of money to pay its bills on time.
Republicans have pushed against raising the debt ceiling unless the White House agrees to substantial trade-offs, but President Barack Obama said he would reject attempts to negotiate.
“If you were just going to mindlessly raise the debt ceiling every time you bumped up against it, there’d be no reason to have it,” Mulvaney said. “The whole purpose to have a debt ceiling is to sit back and use it as an opportunity to try and figure out why you’re borrowing so much money.”