DeMint: Republicans must do ‘everything they can’ to block debt limit increase

By Shane D’Aprile – The Hill Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) sent another warning over the looming debt ceiling vote Friday, writing in an e-mail to supporters that “Republicans must do everything they can to block an increase in the debt limit.”

In the e-mail, sent to backers of DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, the senator highlighted a Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), one of the candidates his PAC helped fund in 2010.

In the op-ed, Toomey writes that Congress can freeze the debt ceiling without defaulting on its obligations and that he’s poised to introduce a legislative fix.

“I intend to introduce legislation that would require the Treasury to make interest payments on our debt its first priority in the event that the debt ceiling is not raised,” Toomey writes in the op-ed. “This would not only ensure the continued confidence of investors at home and abroad, but would enable us to have an honest debate about the consequences of our eventual decision about the debt ceiling.”

In his e-mail, DeMint called it “a game changer” in the debate over the debt limit, which is leading up to a vote with potential 2012 implications for members in contested seats as soon as next month.

In the House, the new crop of GOP freshmen, many of whom were able to boast significant Tea Party backing in 2010, are eager to deliver on campaign promises of slashing spending. And in both the House and Senate, centrist Democrats will face serious pressure to reject any increase.

“Americans should reject the sky-is-falling-hysteria coming from President Obama and demand that Congress stop the debt and balance the budget,” DeMint said. “When the Senate considers the debt limit next month, Republicans must do everything they can to block an increase in the debt limit.”

It’s the latest salvo from DeMint in the debt ceiling debate, which is rapidly picking up steam. On Thursday, DeMint and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, rolled out a plan that would cap federal spending at 2006 levels through the year 2021.

In the House, Republicans are also mulling tying any increase in the debt ceiling to a vote on a balanced budget amendment.