Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

House GOP Plan Would Keep Government Shut, Raise Debt Limit (Updated)

Updated 12:23 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner is offering a six-week debt limit hike without reopening the government to President Barack Obama in a bid to jump-start stalled budget negotiations.

“What we’re going to do is offer the president the ability to move a temporary increase in the debt ceiling [and] an agreement to go to conference on the budget for his willingness to sit down and discuss with us a way forward to reopen the government and start to deal with America’s pressing problems,” the Ohio Republican said after meeting with his conference to discuss the plan.

The White House continues to insist, however, that Republicans agree to reopen the government without partisan riders or concessions before negotiations begin.

But the plan to pass a clean debt ceiling increase is the first breakthrough since the government shut down Oct. 1. And it appeared to have early support from conservatives.

Even tea party leader Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., seemed open to the idea. “Well I think if that gets us to where we need to be, it may be something we need to consider, because the one thing we won’t do is put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk. It’s foolish, and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” she said.

Some conservatives, meanwhile, have continued to push this morning for attaching some GOP demands to even a short-term debt limit increase.

President Barack Obama, who will meet with the GOP leadership at 4:35 p.m. today, has indicated he would sign a short-term measure provided it did not have partisan concessions added on.

Boehner urged the president to open negotiations.

“It’s time for leadership, it’s time for these negotiations and this conversation has to begin,” Boehner said, “and I would hope that the president would look at this as an opportunity and a good-faith effort, on our part, to move halfway, halfway to what he commanded, in order to have these conversations begin.”

Boehner demurred when asked by a reporter whether he was prepared to reopen the government along with passage of a short-term debt ceiling increase.

“That’s the conversation we’re going to have with the president today,” he said. “I don’t want to put anything on the table, I don’t want to take anything off the table, that’s why we want to have this conversation.”

He also acknowledged that the proposed debt limit extension wouldn’t prevent another bitter fight six weeks from now.

“Clearly we could end up in the same place and we don’t want to,” Boehner said. “I think the president wants to deal with America’s pressing problems just as much as we do, but in order to deal with these pressing problems we have got to sit down and have a conversation.”

A White House aide reiterated Thursday that negotiations are contingent on Republicans ending the shutdown.

“Once Republicans in Congress act to remove the threat of default and end this harmful government shutdown, the President will be willing to negotiate on a broader budget agreement to create jobs, grow the economy, and put our fiscal house in order,” the aide said in a statement. “While we are willing to look at any proposal Congress puts forward to end these manufactured crises, we will not allow a faction of the Republicans in the House to hold the economy hostage to its extraneous and extreme political demands. Congress needs to pass a clean debt limit increase and a funding bill to reopen the government.”

The prospect of the GOP playing with default has started to unsettle financial markets and major GOP donors, and several major conservative groups have pushed the party to focus its fight on the continuing resolution funding the government instead.

Stocks were soaring on the offer Thursday morning, with the Dow Jones up over 200 points in its early hours.

A vote on the measure was looking likely for Friday, assuming Republicans stick with the plan following their meeting with the president.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said the Rules Committee could be meeting on the legislation as soon as this afternoon. Bishop said the strategy clearly had to change. “What I see it is, looking back over the last nine days, what we’re doing doesn’t work. What the Senate is insisting upon doesn’t work. So somewhere you got to change something,” he said.

But not everyone in the GOP was sold.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa said he couldn’t support the plan at this point.

“The way I understand it is that it’s a promise to look at entitlements. Well, a promise to look at something is nothing,” he said, adding that while there’s a “whole series of different perspectives,” the “tone” inside the conference is to be unified.

Even if Republicans lose a number of Republican votes, Democrats might help the GOP push the measure over the passage threshold.

Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn., signaled that Democrats probably could support the six-week debt limit increase, but he cautioned that “the devil is in the details.”

“It’s hard to comment on a civil war when you’re watching it in front of you, and you’re watching them self-destruct, but by the same token there’s a larger interest here, and that’s the country,” Larson said.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., predicted Democrats would vote for a debt limit increase if it’s clean.

“My position, and I think the vast majority of the caucus, and I think the president’s position, is that anything that is clean, we’ll support. Six weeks is not adequate, obviously, but it’s better than nothing, it’d better than default,” he said.

Democrats reacted with dismay, however, that the GOP still hasn’t agreed to reopen the government while negotiations take place.

“There’s no reason why we cannot open the government and put people in this nation at their ease with regard to their jobs, their paychecks, their health services, their educational services,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. “They are continuing to hold people hostage, they should not do that. I think that, you know, they’re going to look at the debt ceiling and maybe come to Jesus on the fact that you can’t throw this nation off the fiscal cliff.”

DeLauro, meanwhile, noted Republicans could always change their minds.

“We’ll see what they come out with. It could change at any moment depending on, you know, what they have for breakfast,” she said.

  • Will Malven

    I knew Boehner would cave. The man is weak and cowardly.

    Obama tells him, “You surrender with no conditions and then I promise I will negotiate.” After 5 years of listening to Obama’s endless lies . . . he still believes him?

    • hippie1367

      He’s republican filth….they are all limpdicked cowards

    • EWS

      He’s not done caving yet. He will need a clean debt increase and open the govt. Then he gets a budget conference under regular order. That is all he was ever going to get. Then the dems will win in virginia. I call that a trifecta that the Republicans can thank the Tea Party for.

    • MrSmith

      IMO This keeps the focus on Obamacare and the Dems’ shutdown to save it. And on the foolish spending that causes the debt.
      Dems would love to distract people from their failing blockade of the government with a debt ‘default’.

  • MrSmith

    Good. Harry Reid refuses to bring any bill up for debate. Any bill.
    Republican Senators have to agree to strict limits on debate first so his Dems don’t have to make any recorded votes on the issues of the shutdown or else he blocks every bill.
    If they didn’t agree to Harry’s rule on his debt limit bill vote this Saturday the media would say they blocked – although they know it’s a lie.
    Heck, they’ll have to agree to squelch debate to get this voted on or he’ll still make the US ‘default’ LOL!

    It’s the shame of the news editors of America’s media that Harry Reid has such a cushy job.

    • EWS

      LOL It’s amusing to watch the freak out in real time. All the Republicans were ever gonna get is a clean debt ceiling and re-open of the govt and go to conference. Now they tried this half baked Teapublican plan and end up in the same place except now they are in real danger of losing the house majority and have a 28% approval rating to the Dems 43% Talk about the mother of all screwups LOL!!

  • toledojim

    Politics is a very strange and brutal game and, honestly, I don’t think Obama will bite. There is so much misinformation and so much bias by the mainstream media it’s hard to tell the facts from the fiction and I think that Obama will hold out for more concessions, let’s face it he thinks he’s winning. In this case maybe the six weeks buys some breathing room, but, personally, I don’t think the Republicans are strong enough to hold the line but what is just really obnoxious is the simple fact that people are so stupid to see what the democrats are doing; you never play politics with the people and force on them unnecessary pain and suffering, yet these democrats do it daily and nobody finds that offensive.

    • Layla

      Don’t kid yourselves. NBC polling shows 60% want to vote both sides out.

      • toledojim

        I’m sure there have to be more people who are really pissed off than those who just think everything is wonderful and that becomes the major issue, the misinformation and it just seems the Democrats do a better job in managing it. The Republicans should be spending some money and putting out ads to refute the falsehoods and getting face time on the tube to make their point.

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