WASHINGTON, D.C. — For decades, conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist vowed to drive Republicans out of office if they didn’t pledge to oppose tax increases. Many lawmakers signed on.


But now, several senior Republicans are breaking ranks, willing to consider raising more money through taxes as part of a deal with Democrats to avoid a catastrophic budget meltdown.


Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said the only pledge he will keep is his oath of office. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said no one in his home state of Virginia is talking about what leaders in Washington refer to simply as “The Pledge,” a Norquist invention that dates to 1986. Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss said he cares more about his country than sticking to Norquist’s pledge.


Other Republicans, however, now are willing to put tax increases on the table as a bargaining chip for a deal with Democrats over changes in Social Security and Medicare and to pare down federal deficits.


“I agree with Grover, we shouldn’t raise rates. But I think Grover is wrong when it comes to we can’t cap deductions and buy down debt,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”


“I will violate the pledge – long story short – for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform,” he added.


Rep. Peter King of New York told Sunday’s “Meet the Press” on NBC that the pledge is good for a two-year term only.


“A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago, is for that Congress,” King said. “For instance, if I were in Congress in 1941, I would have signed a support of declaration of war against Japan. I’m not going to attack Japan today. The world has changed, and the economic situation is different.”