The Washington Times - May 22, 2013, 01:10PM

A handful of conservative congressmen said Wednesday that they will demand a budget that balances in 10 years in exchange for their vote to increase the debt ceiling, saying that Republican leadership promised as much during a GOP retreat earlier this year.

Rep. Raul Labrador, Idaho Republican, said another option presented by leadership — to have a general plan for tax reform in exchange for a debt-ceiling deal — is a “non-starter” and “a slap in the face in many ways.”

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Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Kansas Republican, shared a similar sentiment.

“That was the promise from our leadership,” he said. “It wasn’t a promise we’re going to put it in the budget, it was the promise that will be what we go for on the debt ceiling. So that should be part of our debt ceiling offer.”

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said that negotiations are still in their early stages.

“We have just begun the process of talking with members, and — more importantly — with the American people, about the best way to increase the debt limit consistent with the ‘Boehner Rule,’ which requires cuts or reforms equal or greater than the increase,” Mr. Steel said.

The House and Senate have passed wildly different spending plans, and appear far from even beginning the process of reconciling them.

The fight over the debt ceiling has spilled onto the Senate floor as well in recent days, with a trio of GOP senators — Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rand Paul of Kentucky — objecting to appointing conferees to a House-Senate panel to reconcile the budgets unless an assurance is given that the debt ceiling will not be raised.

GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida joined in the argument Wednesday, and was rebuffed by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

“The American people don’t like it, and I don’t like it,” Mr. McCain said. “It is not the regular order to demand certain conditions on the conferees.”

Mr. Rubio responded that so-called “regular order” has resulted in the country racking up $17 trillion in debt.