Blue Dogs to Bless Debt Limit Hike

Posted December 11, 2009 at 10:44am

A debt limit increase of $1.8 trillion to $1.9 trillion will be included in the Defense spending bill along with a six-month extension of unemployment benefits and possibly a jobs package, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Friday.The debt limit hike, which would carry the government through the 2010 midterm elections, has the support of fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats, provided it is accompanied by language codifying pay-as-you-go rules.Hoyer said the House would insist on PAYGO in its negotiations with the Senate and said there may be room to add in a fiscal commission sought by Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) as well.“There’s no reason not to do both,— Hoyer said. “I think they’re complementary.—Pelosi has long opposed the commission idea, but Hoyer said, “The Speaker has also made it clear that in the legislative process there has to be give and take.—And Hoyer said there are different ways a commission could be structured.Pelosi and House liberals have been particularly opposed to giving an unelected commission fast-track authority to bring spending cuts and tax increases to the House and Senate floors.Hoyer said that in addition to six-month extensions of unemployment payments and health subsidies, other jobs-related items could be attached, including an infrastructure package, although the details remain in flux. Another possible item that could be attached is an estate tax bill that could be either short- or long-term.