Debt Limit Deadline: Here's Where Things Stand

 @LauraMatt on February 05 2014 11:35 AM
  • Boehner Oct 2013 2
    U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is flanked by House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. (left), and Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor as he speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Reuters
  • Boehner 16Oct2013 2
    Speaker of the House John Boehner arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington October 16, 2013. The U.S. Senate has prepared a last ditch effort on Wednesday to avoid a historic lapse in the government's borrowing authority, a breach that President Barack Obama has said could lead to default and deliver a damaging blow to the global economy. Reuters
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Two days away from the new debt-limit deadline, the White House has already put its foot down: There will be no negotiation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has warned that Democrats aren’t going to pay ransom for an increase in the government’s borrowing authority and that Republicans should “skip the crisis this time.”

House Speaker John Boehner would love for the issue to be resolved without a dramatic showdown. According to media reports, the Ohio Republican sees “no sense” in demanding concessions. It’s like “picking a fight we can’t win,” Boehner said.

The suspension of the federal debt limit Congress enacted in October expires Friday. While congressional Democrats would appreciate a speedy increase without much theater, House Republicans are still deciding a game plan.

House leadership wants a plan to increase the debt limit that Republicans will support, Roll Call reported Tuesday, adding that Boehner doesn’t necessarily want the Senate to strike first with an unpopular proposal.

So here’s where things are at the moment:

Another Go At An Obamacare Repeal, Anyone?

House Republicans seem to have learned something about using the health care law as a political tool. Their insistence last October to use Obamacare as a bargaining chip in exchange for continuing the normal functioning of the government resulted in a 16-day government shutdown when Democrats held their ground. Americans' view of the Republican Party fell to a new low with a mere 28 percent saying they saw them favorably, by Gallup’s count.

Among the ideas floating around the lower chamber, the Washington Post reported, is that many are uniting around a yearlong extension of the debt limit in exchange for a repeal of some of the health care law’s provisions. But some conservatives are running scared from that idea.

“We should bring up a clean debt ceiling, let the Democrats pass it and just move on,” Rep. Raul R. Labrador, R-Idaho, told the paper. “Our constituents are fed up with the political theater. If we’re not going to fight for something specific, we might as well let the Democrats own it.”

Keystone XL Approval, Maybe?

A mostly favorable review from the State Department concerning the $7 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline has Republicans now calling on President Barack Obama for its approval. But not all Republicans are singing that tune.

Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana believes that after five years of waiting and the new report from the State Department, the project should get the go-ahead. But linking the pipeline to the debt ceiling isn’t such a smart idea in his book.

“Keystone ought to be approved on its own merits,” he was quoted in the National Journal. “It doesn’t need to be tied to the debt ceiling.”

Scalise would rather see a repeal of the “bailouts” for health insurance companies.

If All Else Fails ...  A Clean Bill Will Do

This is what Democrats want. No conditions attached. Boehner told Roll Call that while there are many opinions on the debt ceiling, no decision has been made.

“The goal here is to increase the debt ceiling,” he said. “No one wants to default on our debt. But while we’re doing something on this, we ought to do something about either jobs or the economy [or] about the drivers of our debt.”

All he has to worry about now is drafting a plan that can get him his caucus’ votes. 

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