House GOP's Price for Raising Debt Ceiling: Keystone or Obamacare Reforms

Tuesday, 04 Feb 2014 07:46 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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House Republicans have narrowed to two their bargaining chips for raising the U.S. debt-limit before its Feb. 7 expiration date, The Washington Post reports.

The House will agree to hike the debt ceiling in exchange for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline or a one-year extension for repeal of Obamacare’s risk acts corridors, which are payments to insurers if the insurers suffer serious losses on the Obamacare exchanges.

The options were discussed last week at the GOP’s annual retreat in Maryland and will be further debated today at the Capitol.

Bloomberg has reported that Senate Republicans will probably have enough votes to raise the debt limit without conditions, citing third-ranking Senate Republican John Thune of South Dakota.

“I suspect that with Democrats, there are probably enough Republicans in the Senate that would vote for a clean debt limit increase,” Thune said.

While the Senate may have enough votes without demanding conditions, some senators, including Texas Republican Ted Cruz, still want Republicans to use a debt limit increase “as an effective ‘lever point’ to insist on ‘significant structural reforms that address the out-of-control spending and out-of-control debt in Washington,’” Bloomberg notes.

South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham countered that the party would be foolish to again tie Obamacare to the debt ceiling debate.

“We’ve been down that road,” Graham said. “Let’s try to do things where there is bipartisan support.”

The president and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada have insisted they will not negotiate with Republicans on conditions to raising the limit.

Disagreements over the debt limit led to the 16-day partial government shutdown in October. It was ultimately suspended without conditions, but only after the GOP-led House lobbied hard for the debt limit increase to be tied to provisions changing Obamacare and promoting the pipeline.

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