House GOP Drops Plan Linking Debt Ceiling to Keystone, Obamacare

Wednesday, 05 Feb 2014 02:00 PM

By Melanie Batley

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The House Republican leadership has abandoned plans to link an increase in the debt ceiling to concessions from Democrats which would have either insisted on the authorization of the Keystone pipeline or the repeal of Obamacare's "risk corridor provision," which gives taxpayer subsidies to insurance companies for future losses.

For weeks, House Speaker John Boehner's office has insisted that the party would be seeking concessions from the White House before agreeing to a deal to raise the debt ceiling, and the options had been discussed at the lawmakers' annual retreat in Maryland last week.

But the plans were abandoned suddenly on Wednesday after lawmakers realized they would not be able to garner the 218 votes from House Republicans to pass a debt-limit increase without the help of Democrats, The Hill reports.

The deal that ended the October government shutdown suspended the nation's $17 trillion borrowing cap until Feb. 7. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew last month urged Congress to come to an agreement by that date to avoid a default on the government debt, saying the government's ability to meet its obligations will run out before the end of February.

Conservatives have said in recent days they would oppose a clean increase in the debt ceiling, but the GOP leadership has made it clear it will not allow a repeat of the standoff that badly damaged the party's public standing in the autumn.

"A clean debt-ceiling [bill] would not garner my vote, but if the House leadership chooses to go that route and believes that's in the best interests of the country and they don't need my vote to accomplish that, I'm OK with that," Wyoming GOP Rep. Cynthia Lummis said Tuesday, according to The Hill.

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