Boehner says no final decisions on new debt plan

October 15, 2013
House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday there were "a lot of opinions about what direction to go" on government shutdown negotiations after a meeting with House Republicans. (The Washington Post)

House Republican leaders met resistance Tuesday morning when they put forward their own plan to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling, leaving in doubt what the lower chamber could pass as a bipartisan group of senators tried to finalize a deal in the coming hours.

After an unusually long House GOP huddle, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters that no final decisions had been made on advancing their plan.

"There have been no decisions about what exactly we will do," Boehner said at a brief news conference with several GOP leaders. Those comments came after a meeting of the House Republican Conference that lasted more than two hours, at least twice as long as a usual gathering in their regular Capitol basement meeting room.

House Majority Leader Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) echoed the sentiment concerning the new plan by signaling that Republicans wanted lawmakers to be subject to the same treatment under the Affordable Care Act as regular workers. The goal, Cantor said, is "no special treatment for anybody under the law."

Pressed for what he would advance, Boehner demurred. "We're working with our members on a way forward," the speaker said, adding that he was talking to both sides of the aisle.

"The idea of a default is wrong and we shouldn't get anywhere near it," he added.

Senior GOP aides acknowledged that the meeting did not go well, and that Republicans face a difficult task in mustering all 217 votes — the bare majority under the House's current makeup — for the proposal.

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