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"

(Continued)

But it's another story in the House. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, signaled that conservative members of the House were deeply skeptical. He said any bill had to have serious spending cuts for him to vote to raise the debt ceiling and said he thought Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had more flexibility than they had said publicly.

"No deal is better than a bad deal," Barton said.

Asked whether the emerging package contained any victories for Republicans, Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., a member of the House GOP leadership, said, "Not that I've seen so far, no."

In addition to approving legislation to fund the government until late this year and avert a possible debt crisis later this week or month, the potential pact would set up broader budget negotiations between the GOP-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate. One goal of those talks would be to ease automatic spending cuts that began in March and could deepen in January, when about $20 billion in further cuts are set to slam the Pentagon.

Democrats also were seeking to preserve the Treasury Department's ability to use extraordinary accounting measures to buy additional time after the government reaches any extended debt ceiling. Such measures have permitted Treasury to avert a default for almost five months since the government officially hit the debt limit in mid-May, but wouldn't buy anywhere near that kind of time next year, experts said.

The House GOP plan would repeal the extraordinary measures, which would make the Feb 7 date a hard deadline to revisit the fight.

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Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, David Espo, Henry C. Jackson, Julie Pace and Alan Fram contributed to this report.

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