Republicans are slowly coming around to the possibility of a short-term, six-week-or-so debt-ceiling increase that would allow for negotiations among congressional Republicans, Democrats, and President Barack Obama.
But they’re doing so for very different reasons. In many ways, this plan has split the GOP, again, on the issue of Obamacare.
Conservatives want to increase the debt ceiling in the short term to focus the fight on the continuing resolution and on the issue of defunding, delaying, or at least making significant changes to the Affordable Care Act. More establishment Republicans want to move on from Obamacare, as they always have, realising that it is perhaps a losing issue.
A House GOP leadership aide told Business Insider that “a lot of members like some version of the idea” of a six-week solution.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chair of the House Budget Committee, exemplifies the case of the establishment. He wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that rankled conservatives, because it did not once mention Obamacare.
Instead, as Ryan expanded on Wednesday, it advocates focusing on entitlement reform in subsequent talks with Obama on long-term fiscal issues. Ryan mentioned trading some entitlement reform for the repeal of certain sequestration cuts in his op-ed.
Some conservatives aren’t on board with that plan. Take RedState editor Erick Erickson, who accused House Republicans of preparing to “give up” on Thursday:
Cantor, Boehner, and with them Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn are expected to cave in and fully fund, unimpeded, Obamacare.
They will work up a new deal that includes a debt ceiling increase with a few sops to the GOP as cover. The only change they are still considering it the medical device tax repeal, which is being heavily lobbied for by former Boehner and McConnell staffers who left for K Street.
Erickson went on to say that the debate could “sow the seeds of real third party movement that will fully divide the Republican Party.”
Heritage Action and FreedomWorks, two leading conservative groups, also backed away from a debt ceiling fight on Wednesday. But their reasoning echoed Erickson: They want to put focus back to the government-funding fight and Obamacare, and leave room for a debt-ceiling fight later this year.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the original leader of the “defund Obamacare” effort, hasn’t made any public comments about his thoughts on these reports. His office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
But Amanda Carpenter, Cruz’s senior communications director, was not a fan of Ryan’s op-ed.
A group of 18 House Republicans are meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday amid the ongoing debates on funding the government and raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
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