Shutdown Would Linger Under House GOP Plan to Raise Debt Limit

Posted October 10, 2013 at 12:00pm

There’s nothing about reopening the government in the House Republican leadership plan to raise the debt ceiling for the next six weeks. In fact, the proposal unveiled today would keep the partial federal shutdown in place during that time, as presumed leverage to force President Barack Obama to strike a deficit reduction deal.

“He wants both a clean debt ceiling increase and a clean CR,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, a prominent tea party conservative, said on CNN this morning. “Well, we’re only going to give him half of what he wants.”

Asked what it would take for Republicans to endorse a continuing resolution that would end the shutdown, Speaker John A. Boehner said he would reveal that to Obama at his meeting with other GOP leaders around 4:30 this afternoon.

Boehner plans to put the debt bill to a vote on Friday, but nonetheless hold lawmakers in town on Saturday as well. Members were told officially today that next week’s Columbus Day recess has been canceled and that they would be expected back at the Capitol for votes starting Monday night

Obama has insisted Congress reopen the government without any strings attached, and it is far from clear how many Democrats in either the House or Senate would be willing to embrace the debt increase offer without language on federal spending as well.

Rep. John B. Larson, D-Conn., told reporters today that Democrats probably could support the six-week debt limit increase, but he cautioned that “the devil is in the details.”

Some Democrats may argue that, with today’s offer coming a full week before the Oct. 17 deadline for default being used by the Treasury Department, there’s a  likelihood that Republicans will make more concessions in the coming days.

Under the plan revealed today, if the impasse lasts until the end of the Treasury borrowing window the Republicans now want to create, which would close the weekend before Thanksgiving, the government shutdown would have lasted in the neighborhood of 15 percent of the new fiscal year.

The Republican announcement, after the leaders spent 90 minutes selling the plan to the rank and file, came after Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew warned the Senate Finance Committee that a failure to extend the government’s ability to borrow money “could be deeply damaging” to financial markets and that talk of having the government prioritize its debts if the $16.7 trillion limit is breached was profoundly misguided.

“The United States should not be put in a position of making such perilous choices for our economy and our citizens,” Lew said. “There is no way of knowing the irrevocable damage such an approach would have on our economy and financial markets.”

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.