House GOP discussing short-term increase in debt ceiling
January 17th, 2013
05:25 PM ET
5 years ago

House GOP discussing short-term increase in debt ceiling

Williamsburg, Virginia (CNN) – House Republican leaders are talking to rank and file GOP members about passing a short-term extension of the debt ceiling, perhaps one that just authorized the nation's borrowing authority for a couple of months.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, told reporters it was one option in a morning discussion with all House Republicans about legislative strategy for the first few months of the new Congress.

"We're discussing the possible virtue of a short term debt limit extension so that we have a better chance of getting the Senate and the White House involved in discussions in March," Ryan said.

President Barack Obama, however, has closed the door to negotiating over the debt ceiling, saying "America cannot afford another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they’ve already racked up."

"They’re going to have to send me something that’s sensible. And we shouldn’t be doing this ... on a one to three-month timeframe," Obama said at a news conference on Monday. "Why would we do that? This is the United States of America. ... What, we can’t manage our affairs in such a way that we pay our bills and we provide some certainty in terms of how we pay our bills?"

The necessity of raising the debt ceiling comes shortly after the fiscal cliff, which found Republicans and Democrats at stalemate for weeks over averting tax increases and spending cuts which they had designed to trigger if they could not reach a deal.

"I’m not going to have a monthly or every-three-months conversation about whether or not we pay our bills," Obama said. "Because that in and of itself does severe damage. Even the threat of default hurts our economy. It’s hurting our economy as we speak. We shouldn’t be having that debate."

Republican Rep. John Fleming, R-Louisiana, said the idea came out of an ad hoc group led by Ryan, and House Speaker John Boehner signaled he supported the approach.

At one of the closed door sessions at a resort in Williamsburg, rank and file members viewed a slide show that highlighted how one of the last major deficit reduction packages – known as Gramm-Rudman – was preceded by a series of short term extensions in the debt ceiling.

Fleming said members will wait to see all the details, but said many conservatives backed it.

"I think we're all pretty much on board," Fleming said, and noted that impetus behind it was to keep the pressure on for reaching a broader deal to cut spending.

The strategy was a departure from recent discussions where Republicans pushed that any increase in the debt limit must include spending cuts that amounted to the same size of the increase. It's unclear what kind of spending cuts leaders might want to include.

Some conservatives are pressing GOP leaders to attach items to force the Democratic-led Senate to act. One option discussed was to require the Senate to pass a budget, another was to require that the Senate approve or simply vote on a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

Rep. Steve Scalise, who heads the group of fiscal conservatives in the House known as the Republican Study Committee, says he wants to include a condition to any increase in the nation's borrowing authority that the Senate pass a budget—something it hasn't done in four years. The Louisiana Republican said GOP members are suggesting the extension go through mid April.

"I think the debt limit is a symptom of the spending problem," Scalise told CNN, and added no longer term extension is warranted until there is a complete picture of what the spending priorities are.

Just weeks after Congress passed a deal to avert the fiscal cliff at the end of 2012, lawmakers are heading into a series of contentious debates over the debt ceiling, the automatic spending cuts about to kick in across government agencies (or "sequester") and legislation to avoid a possible government shutdown at the end of March.

Ryan said a main purpose of the House GOP retreat was to walk members through the "sequence" of all three things and the numbers involved for rank and file members, especially the freshmen who haven't been through a vote on major budget issues before.

The Wisconsin Republican wouldn't get into any specifics on what kind of cuts the GOP might propose to accompany a short term extension. But he stressed that ultimately both parties needed to come together on major deficit reduction package this year.

"We believe it that it would be wrong if we walk out of this spring with no achievement on debt reduction whatsoever, because that will hurt the country, that will hurt the economy and that's why we believe we have to have serious plan for tackling these things," Ryan said.

Fleming said he believed President Obama may be willing to support a short term increase in the debt limit so he could move onto other legislative priorities he wants to press, such as new restrictions on guns. But he noted there was "zero" discussion of the gun issue at the retreat, and the focus was narrowly on the immediate fiscal battles ahead.

Ryan didn't directly answer questions about whether there was a widespread willingness among a majority of House Republicans to default on the nation's obligations if they can't reach some kind of deal on the debt limit.

Asked if the GOP was willing to "shoot the hostage" as some conservatives have suggested – in negotiations with Democrats, Ryan said, “I don't want to use any metaphors such as that at all."

– CNN's Paul Courson contributed to this report.

Filed under: Congress • Debt • Deficit • House • Virginia
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F

    The Koch Brothers have already told the right wingnuts to not screw around with the debt ceiling. I wonder if the baggers will listen to their masters.

    January 17, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. RomneyWho

    I will be starting a "Save the Can" campaign! That poor defenseless, dented up, old rusty can that they are forever kicking down that long road to nowhere, has gone through a lot these past 4 years . . . Cruel and unusual punishment, I dare say! I SAY SET THE CAN FREE! Who's with me? 😦

    January 17, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "House GOP discussing short-term increase in debt ceiling"

    Of course they are "considering it" and I've been telling you they were and would. Putting the debt ceiling threat on a recurring 2-month schedule would keep all the uncertainty and threat alive and severely hamper the economy's recovery, which they clearly want to do in order to prevent Obama and the Dems from claiing any success. They want you angry and suffering and blaming Obama/Dems, not thanking them. Not only that, a short-term recurring debt ceiling fight would likely get them the credit downgrade they want, so they can blame that on Obama too, but without having to really go thru with a default or even bring it right to the brink of a default in order to get the downgrade.

    January 17, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Jay Dee

    Good move, especially since Reagan raised the debt ceiling 17 times during his administration and Bush raised it 8 times during his. As I recall, neither ever balanced a budget.....oh, that's republican has balanced a budget since Eisenhauer.

    January 17, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Derak

    so we just won't kick the can as far down the road this time...but we are still kicking it.

    If republicans won't take a stand, than what good are they?
    Just tell all your donors to put their money in metals or foreign currency and demand spending cuts, including the military, but I bet that neither domestic or military cuts will be made even in the sequester. We will just increase taxes and promise to cut spending later until people forget all about it.

    These guys are quite spineless.

    January 17, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. CBP

    Does anyone understand why the GOP needs to treat this debt ceiling differently than all over times when the debt ceiling was routinely passed. All of a sudden we are fighting over something that is necessary for the government to pay its bills.
    Bpth parties voted for these programs and expenditures and now they need to make sure that the bills are paid Not paying the bills puts many business owners on slippery footing

    Get this done, please, so we can move on to other debates that really do matter.

    January 17, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  7. PJ

    @ Romney/Who: I'm with you. Thanks for the laugh!!!!

    January 17, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  8. Donkey Party

    The GOP are domestic terrorists, holding the entire country hostage with their radical fundamentalist extremist ideology. At what point is it going to be legal to arm ourselves and eradicate these GOP terrorists? Sane, liberty-loving American patriots have had enough. We need to "take our country back" from them before they do any more harm and destruction than they've already done.

    January 17, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  9. Woman In California

    Fleming said he believed President Obama may be willing to support a short term increase in the debt limit so he could move onto other legislative priorities he wants to press, such as new restrictions on guns.


    Translation: we can tose "Barack Obama" anything because after all, he's not really the president and he's just not smart enough to handle the job (as previous presidents have), or of thinking, so let's just throw him a curb and he'll gladly take it, forgot what he really wanted (because he thinks as a child) and we can go on destroying the country.

    January 17, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. don in albuquerque

    Is anybody paying any attention to these Baggers anymore? From the debt ceiling to gun control. Always on the wrong side of the issue, if they can even stay on an issue. Totally disgusting. Vote every last member of the GOP out of office. If you don't like the dems then start working to form a new party. But our current comedy.

    January 17, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  11. Martha in CF

    OH PLEASE-spare us Americans from having to listen to this BS again in the near future.......Get er done and get onto the business of the country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I think it is time for us Americans to not pay congress-they don't do anything....

    January 17, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    Why shorterm??? Just remove all of the congress idiots in 2014. End of the matter.

    January 17, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  13. Name. JBR

    What is wrong with you?? None of you have stood up to this President in four years. He's a liar, has the ethics of a tomcat and has no clue what he has done to our country - nor cares what a disaster he leaves behind. He and his family will be set for life, protected by our Secret Service and will continue to make mega bucks on speaking engagements [of course using little children as props and his TelePrompTer - which without he would be unable to utter a word] and spread his vision of socialism in many more books. Enough of Obama already!!! Perform the job WE the people elected you to do.

    January 17, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  14. Logic N LA

    Agree to pay our bills and stop wasting time! If the effort spent jockeying for positon on these non-issiues was put into reducing our spending, they would not have to have these debates.

    January 17, 2013 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. Jonquil

    ( 🙂 "RomneyWho"!)

    Ryan wants Democrats to cut from programs that their supporters want, first and then Republicans will get back to them at a later date and tell them if they've decided to offer anything, too. They think they're pulling a fast one over all of us.

    Republicans: Fight the battles of The Future. This money's already been spent. This is money from old, already approved things, like ending a war that was started over a decade ago, pay promises and programs already approved. This is money that was already approved. Pass the debt ceiling and move on to discussing how to fix present and Future spending.

    January 17, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  16. Wake up People!

    Paul Ryan YOU LOST. Why do they keep trying to put a tiny band-aid on an open seeping wound? This ish is getting ridiculous. The debt ceiling has been raised countless times by almost all POTUS'. But this POTUS is the only one to encounter roadblocks. I'm getting really sick of these people.

    January 17, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  17. rightforlife

    If they got a can to kick down the road they better take it to a recycling for scrap metal.

    January 17, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  18. Reeaaally

    The GOP's obstructionism has gone on way to long, it is beyond ridiculous at this point. Why won't they say what spending cuts they want???

    January 17, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  19. EldRick

    Why is this on the Republicans backs?

    It's the Democrats that keep spending more and more money on vote-buying programs that we cannot possibly generate enough revenue to pay for.

    January 17, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  20. Shut it down

    Nobody who works for a living would even notice if the Federal government shut down.

    January 17, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  21. Bad Dog

    Ryan has no credibility. We saw his performance in the election campaign and his case looked like something a teenager would come up with after cramming for a Civics test. People who actually know economics – as to opposed to just making stuff up – consistently say that Ryan's ideas on economics are wacky. Remember? Arithmetic?

    January 17, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  22. lucianna

    So Congress is to propose and pass a budget, with the Senate required to consent and the President to sign. They passed some garbage no one took seriously, and now demand that the Senate come up with a budget. Can we claw back the salaries and benefits of these dimwits in Congress? Or impeach them and start over? That would be my first choice budget cut.

    January 17, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. john

    "They’re going to have to send me something that’s sensible. And we shouldn’t be doing this ... on a one to three-month timeframe," Obama said at a news conference on Monday. "Why would we do that? This is the United States of America. ... What, we can’t manage our affairs in such a way that we pay our bills and we provide some certainty in terms of how we pay our bills?"

    No Mr. President, you CAN'T manage our affairs worth a damn! YOU are the obstructionist. YOU refuse to consider other people's point of view. The next four years can't go by fast enough.

    January 17, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  24. Daverelentless

    Yeah, that'll work. LOL. The only positive there is that it delays a real fix until the Dems take the House in 2 years.

    January 17, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. Gregory M. Newbold

    The 60 or so Tea Party zealots elected to Congress in 2010 were responsible for the downgrade to the US government credit rating because of their ignorance / shenanigans. This downgrade HAS COST citizens/ taxpayers BILLIONS of dollars in higher interest charges.

    Who shall we hold responsible / accountable for this? Shouldn`t we sue these individuals to recover this money? Who cares if we wipe them out personally in the process; isn`t that how our tort system is suppose to work? Isn`t this how society incentivizes proper & accountable behavior?

    How about extracting the money from the state government budgets where they are from? Put the additional cost burden on the state taxpayers that elected them. Let Kentucky, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi, indiana, Utah, etc. have to pay for these extra costs that are the fault of their Tea Party Congressmen. Maybe then the GOP will cut the nonsense and do their duty as Americans.

    January 17, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
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