Betraying a sense of deep frustration with the stalled debt talks, senior Republicans directed their anger on Thursday against the Tea Party members whose intransigence has fractured the caucus.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio)'s plan would generate about $917 billion in savings, allowing the debt ceiling to rise by around the same amount. Both numbers are substantially lower than the target of about $2 trillion Republicans had set from the onset of the talks, and could necessitate another vote to raise the ceiling in just a few months.
Facing pushback from his caucus, Boehner commanded rank-and-file Republicans to "get your ass in line," according to The New York Times.
His statement reflected the extent to which Republican leadership is losing patience with the unwavering position staked out by the party's influx of fiscally stringent Tea Party freshmen. U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., upbraided that faction for continuing to push for provisions, such as a balanced budget amendment that was part of the failed Cut, Cap and Balance bill that had no chance of passage.
"What is really amazing about this is that some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in this body with its present representation and that is foolish," McCain said in a floor speech. He also quoted from a Wall Street Journal editorial as having criticized some members for focusing more on handing President Barack Obama a defeat then on striking a compromise.
"The Republican House that failed to raise the debt ceiling would somehow escape all blame," McCain read. "Then Democrats would have no choice but to pass a balanced-budget amendment and reform entitlements, and the Tea Party hobbits could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor."
While the plan's chance of passage appeared unclear, it would not make it past a united front of Democratic resistance in the Senate. Democratic leadership denounced the bill, and Obama signaled he would veto it should it land on his desk.
"Speaker Boehner's plan is not a compromise," Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said. "It was written for the Tea Party and not the American people."