The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 15, 2013

House GOP unveils bill to counter Senate debt plan

Boehner: "trying to find a path forward"

WASHINGTON (AP) — House GOP leaders Tuesday pitched a plan to fellow Republicans to counter an emerging Senate deal to reopen the government and forestall an economy-rattling default on U.S. obligations. But they stopped short of promising a vote later in the day after the plan got mixed reviews from the rank and file.

Top Republicans unveiled a plan that would suspend a new tax on medical devices for two years and take away the federal government's contributions to lawmakers' health care and top administration officials, in addition to funding the government through Jan. 15 and giving Treasury the ability to borrow normally through Feb. 7.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he's "trying to find a path forward" but that "there have been no decisions about exactly what we will do." He told a news conference "there are a lot of opinions about what direction to go."

The move came as a partial shutdown entered its third week and less than two days before the Treasury Department says it will be unable to borrow and will rely on a this cash cushion to pay the country's bills.

The House GOP plan wouldn't win nearly as many concessions from President Barack Obama as Republicans had sought but it would set up another battle with the White House early next year.

"The jury is still out," said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said he was not sure he could vote for the plan because it did not address the debt. "I have to know a lot more than I know now," he said.

The House move comes after conservative lawmakers rebelled at the outlines of an emerging Senate plan by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Those two hoped to seal an agreement on Tuesday, just two days before the Treasury Department says it will run out of borrowing capacity.

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