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GOP Signals Flexibility Ahead of White House Meeting

Image: GOP Signals Flexibility Ahead of White House Meeting

By Elliot Jager   |   Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 09:41 AM

President Barack Obama will meet with a small delegation of Republican lawmakers at the White House on Thursday amid signs that Republicans may be prepared to compromise on defunding Obamacare, paving the way for a deal that would reopen the government.

In a sign that the ice was melting, House leaders from both parties met privately on Wednesday to seek a way out of the stalemate, The Washington Post reported.

To end the crisis, Republicans are debating among themselves a plan that would repeal the tax on medical devices, intended to raise $3 billion annually to help subsidize the president's insurance scheme, while leaving the rest of Obamacare intact.

They may also offer to conditionally support a four- to eight-week debt ceiling increase in time for next Thursday's deadline, Politico reported.

The idea is to think beyond Obamacare to resolve the impasse. "I'd like to get rid of Obamacare, no question about that, but I think that effort has failed," Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch told Politico. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was even more blunt: "We took an unpopular law and chose a more unpopular tactic to deal with the law."

In another sign that Republican leaders were looking for a way out, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan wrote opinion pieces in newspapers Wednesday that urged President Barack Obama to negotiate with Republicans. Neither explicitly mentioned defunding Obama's signature health care law.

Tea party aligned lawmakers are trying to keep the debt ceiling and government closure talks separate. Catherine Frazier spokeswoman for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said: "The American people remain behind the defund effort," the Post reported.

Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, told The Hill "Obamacare is certainly still part of the [funding] debate, and I think it's going to remain part of the overall debate regardless of how the debt ceiling's done and when it's done."

In a related development, Charles and David Koch, major tea party donors who have long lobbied "to rein in rampant government spending" announced that they had "not taken a position on the legislative tactic of tying the continuing resolution to defunding Obamacare, nor have we lobbied on legislative programs defunding Obamacare."

The brothers were reacting to claims by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that they were behind the government shutdown in an effort to defund Obamacare.

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