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newsroom 10-20-2013 05:11 PM

GOP lawmakers seek broader budget deal
Washington - Senior House Republicans plan to see if they can end the fiscal standoff that shut down the US government by crafting a broader fiscal deal, aides said.

The House GOP plans a closed-door meeting Friday morning to discuss a possible broader budget and fiscal strategy after Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told advisers over lunch on Thursday he didn't want to broker a deal to fund federal agencies and reopen the government, only to face immediate negotiations over raising the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Treasury Department estimates it will not have enough money to pay all its bills after October 17. It has said not raising the statutory borrowing limit before that date could produce a historic US default on its national debt.

GOP lawmakers started exploring whether the political stalemate over funding the government could be resolved by crafting a broader fiscal package that would include an increase in the debt ceiling, the Journal and The Washington Post said.

Boehner expressed optimism at the lunch he might be able to combine the two issues in negotiations with the White House and Senate Democrats, the Journal said.

"This needs to be a big bipartisan deal," Republican Tom Cole, R-Okla., a close Boehner ally, told the Post as he emerged from the luncheon meeting in the speaker's office.

"This is much more about the debt ceiling and a larger budget agreement than it is about Obamacare," he said, using a common term for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare reform law.

But some conservative House members dismissed the idea of raising the debt ceiling without extracting demands from Senate Democrats and the White House.

"I don't see any way he would get a debt ceiling passed in the House without some conditions," Rep. John Fleming, R-La., told the Journal.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement his boss "always said that the United States will not default on its debt, but if we're going to raise the debt limit, we need to deal with the drivers of our debt and deficits."

Obama has said he won't negotiate terms for raising the debt ceiling, but many Republicans have said they won't back an increase unless deficit-reduction measures or other GOP policy goals are included.

Obama cancelled a planned trip to Asia because of the government shutdown, the White House said on Thursday.

The president had been scheduled to visit Indonesia and Brunei to participate in two regional summits. Earlier in the week he had called off stops in Malaysia and the Philippines.

Secretary of State John Kerry will represent Obama at all the events, the White House said. –

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