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GOP Considers Six-Week Debt Limit Extension That Won't End Shutdown

October 10th 2013

Statue of Liberty

House Republicans are discussing a six-week extension of the nation’s debt limit as a way to buy time for more negotiations with President Obama. It is not clear if the hike Republicans are considering to the $16.7 trillion debt limit would be completely "clean," meaning it would not demand concessions from Democrats.

A clean hike would mark a significant concession to the White House. But the legislation would not end the government shutdown, which could give Republicans continued leverage in the fight. Stocks soared on the news, with the Dow Jones average rising more than 180 points in early trading. The administration had set an Oct. 17 deadline for raising the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Thursday warned senators a new recession could set in if the limit is not raised. 

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposed a short-term extension of the debt ceiling in a meeting with conservative Republicans on Wednesday.  Ryan argued the extension would give Republicans and the White House more time to negotiate a longer-term deal that could include entitlement reforms. He also suggested an exchange of entitlement reforms for ending some of the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. Members of both parties have criticized those cuts.

Ryan's proposal came a day after Obama said he could agree to a short-term extension of the debt ceiling, if it was a "clean" extension. Obama will meet Thursday afternoon with a group of House Republicans that will include Ryan. He is separately meeting with Senate Democrats on Thursday. Republicans have seen their poll numbers plummet since the government shutdown began last week. A Gallup poll released Wednesday found the party had a 28 percent approval rating the lowest Gallup had ever recorded. Republicans in the House had been demanding that ObamaCare be defunded, and then delayed, in exchange for opening the government. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal published on Wednesday, Ryan did not mention ObamaCare, a sign that GOP leaders are increasingly moving away from that strategy despite demands from some conservatives.

Ian Swanson writes for "The Hill," from whence this article is reprinted.

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