Republicans Will Make the First Move On the Debt Ceiling

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Republican leaders announced Thursday morning that they would offer President Obama and congressional Democrats a short-term debt ceiling deal in return for a firm commitment to sit down and discuss issues like federal spending and the Affordable Care Act.

The announcement confirms reports from earlier this morning that the GOP leadership would offer a short-term, clean debt ceiling deal in return for such a commitment. It’s important to point out that the deal does not include anything about reopening the parts of the government that are currently shut down. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that he and other Republican leaders from the House would discuss a possible end to the shutdown when they meet with the president Thursday afternoon.

“I don’t want to put anything on the table, I don’t want to take anything off the table,” Boehner said.

A clean debt ceiling deal, however short term, could get the ball rolling in Washington. Obama has to date refused to negotiate “with a gun held to the head of the American people” — meaning as long as the budget and debt ceiling were tied up — but, as Boehner put it Thursday morning, offering to move off the debt ceiling could be interpreted as meeting the president halfway.

Republican leadership seemed confident that they could get such a measure through the House, but some observers are not so sure. Many ultra-conservative members of the GOP are locked in to the idea of getting concessions on the ACA.

Data from Pew Research indicate that just 13 percent of Republicans believe that their leadership should agree to a deal with no changes to the health care law, and a commitment to talk is not the same as action.

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