Republicans up ante, say they want debt ceiling conditions
January 31st, 2014
01:10 PM ET
9 years ago

Republicans up ante, say they want debt ceiling conditions

(CNN) - House Republicans agreed Friday that they would demand conditions for raising the nation's debt ceiling, according to several sources who attended a closed-door discussion at the annual GOP strategy retreat in Cambridge, Maryland.

Extending U.S. borrowing in the early part of this year is the next potential confrontation on fiscal policy with Democrats and President Barack Obama, who has said he would not negotiate over the issue.

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Members at the meeting asserted that a so-called "clean" debt bill could not get the support of the Republican conference and they want to press Senate Democrats and the White House to accept some sort of condition.

At the same time, there was a recognition that whatever they pushed had to be narrow and not provoke a major fight that might rattle financial markets, especially with congressional midterms on the horizon.

The debt ceiling represents a limit on how much the government can borrow to pay its bills.

The government effectively hits the debt ceiling on February 7, but the Treasury has some payment flexibility through accounting maneuvers for an additional month or so.

After that, it would rely solely on whatever cash on hand it has plus incoming tax revenue to meet obligations. But that would be insufficient to make all payments, raising the risk of default.

Republicans and Democrats have waged pitched political battles over spending and debt over the past two years. But with the last fight in October resulting in an unpopular government shutdown and Congress gearing up for midterms, lawmakers came together on a compromise budget.

That left the debt ceiling still to be resolved amid election-year partisanship.

Several ideas for conditions were put on the table at the Republican meeting, including one that would eliminate a provision in the Affordable Care act that would provide federal help to insurance companies.

Republicans have made the sweeping health care law championed by Obama a centerpiece campaign issue for November.

They expect to make a decision on GOP strategy on the debt-ceiling when members return to Washington next week.

A political dilemma for Republican leaders favoring a debt-celing increase is the possibility that even a bill with modest conditions might not clear the GOP-led House.

Why? Because those leaders believe there are many conservatives who would vote against it regardless. This means any additions to a debt measure would have to appeal to at least some Democrats.

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters on Thursday that a debt default would be unacceptable.

"We don't want to do that," he said.

Filed under: Congress • Debt • Republicans
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. current state of the union

    Didn't boehner say loud and clear " we will not default on our debts"? He has no control over his caucus, maybe he should ask the Democrats for help. If you can't see who they're working for now, you don't want too.

    January 31, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    I want what I want when I want it. Cantor's high school quote has become the mantra for the teaklans.
    Nothing to be proud of though!

    January 31, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    yolanda wrote:

    @Fair, but to pass a revenue-neutral budget would require fiscal responsibility. And certainly you know that ll of this is the Republicans' fault.......maybe Obama can get this done by Executive order.
    Bush-43 began his two terms with a $300 billion annual surplus, and Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress. In just a couple of years they had turned that $300B surplus into a $300B deficit....with economists predicting trillion dollar annual deficits within a decade. And, as we now know, almost all of the predictions came true. The only predictions that didn't come true were the ones made by the Reupblicans.

    January 31, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. current state of the union

    Yolanda, tax breaks for the rich, to be made up by the middle class, and cut the ss I paid into. The rich need my money more than me I guess, now that's fiscal responsibility right there, genius!

    January 31, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. Silence DoGood

    @ThinkAgain – If you want Congress to actually do something FOR the American people, vote OUT the Repub/tea bag majority
    @Fair is Fair: "Well maybe if we passed a revenue-neutral (e.g. "balanced") budget, there would be no need to ever raise the debt limit again."

    While you're at it, pass a law prohibiting any future natural disasters and other events government is tasked with responding to. You know, so that the budget never needs to be modified.

    We should have had that when W wanted to send Big Buck$$$$$ to Iraq to kill people. We could have said "Dude – revenue-neutral, sorry."

    January 31, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Republicans up ante"

    They treat it like a game, gambling with the global economy, because CNN and the MSM let them get away with it....and, like that headline, actively encourage them to do it.

    January 31, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. tom l

    I think Fair and Yolanda make some of the most relevant and cogent arguments on this board. They are honest, fact-based comments that don't only say repubs good dems bad. They actually put thought into their positions. I like them and applaud their comments.

    January 31, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. current state of the union

    Is this the last audition for Koch brothers campaign funding?

    January 31, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    Koch and fox. Koch and fox. Koch and fox. Koch and fox and rush Limbaugh. Koch and fox and rush Limbaugh.

    Goodness gracious. I love how much liberals define who republicans are as if they know them and what makes them tick. It's so funny that they are so smart that they can think for themselves yet conservatives are just a bunch of idiots who only do what Koch, fox and Limbaugh says.
    Laugh all you like, but when Rush barks an opinion, it seems like the off-message Republican jumps through hoops to conform. You know, I just realized something. It isn't flip-flopping if you're flapping your lips in order to rhyme with Limbaugh.

    January 31, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Winning

    @Fair is Fair: "Well maybe if we passed a revenue-neutral (e.g. "balanced") budget, there would be no need to ever raise the debt limit again."

    Hey, you had the chance when your conservative brethren passed the budget with MAJORITY SUPPORT. So don't sit there and kvetch and moan about how it wasn't balanced when the people you support made it that way. If they want to reduce spending, then they need to do it through the actual BUDGET, not pass a law dictating that a certain amount of money be spent then threaten to just refuse to pay the bills. God you are such a partisan hack.

    January 31, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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