Republican members of the House are actively considering a way to move tax reform to the top of the political agenda by making it a condition of raising the debt limit.
According to Politico, top lawmakers and aides on the House Ways and Means Committee have been discussing measures that would attempt to "commit Washington" to tax reform over the next five months by capitalizing on calls by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to raise the debt ceiling.
The borrowing authority to cover the nation's debt was set to expire this month, but because of increased revenues, the cap on borrowing probably won't be hit until this fall. Still, the House plans to move ahead with debate on the debt limit as early as this week and include a possible vote on a Republican bill that would force the Treasury Department to prioritize debt payments.
The plan of pairing tax reform with the debt ceiling, led by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, appears to be gathering support among large groups of House Republicans, according to Politico
The move would likely satisfy House Speaker Boehner, who has long had a rule that raising the debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts or other major fiscal reforms.
"House Republicans are just beginning the process of talking with each other — and, more importantly, the American people — about the best way to raise the debt limit consistent with the Boehner rule," Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, told Politico.
"Hopefully, the president and Senate Democrats are also beginning to consider the cuts and reforms that they will support so we can avoid the sort of last-minute theatrics that can hurt our economy," he said.
But the plan is not without its difficulties. Even if the Senate were to agree to the plan, it would require House Republicans to vote on increasing the debt ceiling more than once, a political position that doesn't sit easily with many party members, Politico noted.
Further still, the House and Senate are not in agreement on key elements of how to reform the tax system. And Obama has said he won't negotiate over lifting the debt ceiling.
Still, the president has said he wants to reform the tax code and he has reportedly had discussions with Camp about how to achieve it.
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