As he puts together the debt-ceiling plan, Boehner has little room to maneuver. Republicans have a 232-200 majority in the House, which means that they can lose support from only 15 of their members on a bill that doesn’t attract any Democrats.
Boehner, of Ohio, has been telling Republicans that he won’t allow the U.S. to default on its debt, even if that requires Democratic votes, according to two Republican congressional aides.
Last month, Boehner, 63, outlined a debt-limit increase strategy that also included lighter regulations, cuts in entitlement programs and approval of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline.
The outline included means-testing Medicare, reducing the changes to malpractice law and eliminating social services block grants. Also being considered was a proposal to eliminate a requirement that gives regulators authority to seize and dismantle financial firms if their failure could damage the stability of the U.S. financial system.
Some Republican lawmakers, such as Representatives Paul Broun of Georgia and Mo Brooks of Alabama, said the plan didn’t do enough to cut spending, and Boehner shelved it in favor of focusing on a bill to fund the government and curb the 2010 health law.
Representative Raul Labrador said that he was having “pretty serious” discussions with Republican leaders about combining the spending debates and what a deal might look like.
“As long as we understand we need to get something for the CR and something for the debt ceiling, then everything’s on the table,” the Idaho Republican said yesterday in an interview, referring to the continuing resolution to extend government funding.
Labrador wouldn’t say exactly what he’d ask for in such a deal, saying that “we all want” entitlement reforms and that Obamacare should be “on the table.”
“Maybe we can hold hands and actually make those tough choices together,” Labrador said.
On previous fiscal issues, including the 2011 debt-limit increase and the lapse of tax cuts at the end of 2012, Boehner united Republicans around partisan bills to set a party position and then allowed a bipartisan vote on final deals reached by senators of both parties and Obama.
In both cases, the first version that passed the House received fewer than 20 Democratic votes and the final versions were backed by at least half of the Democrats.
Some lawmakers could accept a debt-ceiling increase without conditions if Republicans are in talks to reduce the U.S. debt burden, said Representative James Lankford of Oklahoma.
“I don’t think there’s energy in the Republican conference to have any kind of default,” he said.
Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said he doesn’t believe Democrats’ statements that they would be willing to have “meaningful negotiations” on the Affordable Care Act after Republicans agree to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
“There is opportunity to get rid of waste in government,” Issa of California said in an interview for Bloomberg Television’s “Capitol Gains,” airing today. “And I think the debt ceiling and every appropriations bill should be an opportunity to have that discussion.”