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Politics & Government

House Republicans Ready To Move On To Debt Ceiling Debate


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

The clock is ticking towards a partial government shutdown, and congressional Republicans and Democrats are digging in their heels. In many ways, the House and Senate are no closer to a deal than they were three weeks ago when they returned from recess. NPR congressional correspondent Tamara Keith explains.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: For all the talking, not much has changed in weeks. Senate Democrats say they want a temporary bill to keep the government open for business. And on the other side of the Capitol, House Speaker John Boehner says, OK, but only if you also defund Obamacare.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: Listen, the American people don't want the president's health care bill, and they don't want the government to shut down. Republicans are listening. We passed a bill last week that would do just what the American people have asked. It's time for the Senate to listen and pass the bill that we sent over there.

KEITH: The Senate isn't going for it. Barbara Mikulski is a Maryland Democrat and heads the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: You can huff, you can puff for 21 hours, but you cannot blow the Affordable Care Act away.

KEITH: Unless something dramatic and unexpected happens, sometime in the next couple of days, the Senate is going to pass a bill that keeps the government open and protects Obamacare. So then what will the House do? They'll add something else to the bill and send it back to the Senate. John Fleming, a Louisiana Republican, stopped to talk to reporters as he left a closed-door strategy session.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN FLEMING: I think you'll see that we will add some things. We're going to continue to fight on the CR. And we did discuss contingency plans in case of a shutdown.

KEITH: And even as this remains unresolved, there's another looming deadline. Congress must act to raise the debt ceiling by the middle of October or, the Treasury secretary says, the nation could default on its obligations. Today, House GOP leaders unveiled their opening position: a one-year debt ceiling increase tied to a lengthy GOP wish list. What's in it? Here's Texas Republican Blake Farenthold.

REPRESENTATIVE BLAKE FARENTHOLD: Yeah. Just go back and look at the stuff we passed that died in the Senate and you'll probably have a good idea of what we're looking at.

KEITH: And you can also get a pretty good idea at how it's being received by Senate Democrats in the White House, though it may not even make it to them since some House Republicans are expressing reservations with the plan. Tamara Keith, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.