GOP debt ceiling bill includes 'doc fix' fund

House Republicans late Monday released the text of legislation to deal with the debt ceiling, which also deals with the "doc fix" issue relating to Medicare physician reimbursements. GOP leaders said the bill would come up for a vote on Wednesday.

The Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act was proposed as a substitute amendment to a Senate bill, S. 540, to name an air traffic control tower in New Hampshire. Replacing the text of that bill, which already passed the Senate, will allow the Senate to approve it more quickly.

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The four-page bill suspends the debt ceiling until March 15, 2015. That would allow the government to continue borrowing without limit, and the new debt ceiling would be whatever the debt is at the end of that date.

Congress also chose last year to suspend the debt ceiling, rather than increase it to a specified level.

As expected, the bill also repeals the $6 billion cut to military pensions that happened earlier this year. GOP leaders are hoping this addition allows it to pass, although many Republicans seem wary of this move.

The bill pays for that repeal by extending the sequester cuts to Medicare for one year, to 2024, but it does not extend discretionary budget caps on appropriations that end in 2021. Many Republicans are expected to oppose this attempt to pay for new spending by making cuts 10 years out.

The bill also includes language setting up a transitional fund for reform of the sustainable growth rate for Medicare physician reimbursements. Current law requires cuts in that reimbursement rate, but Congress has always dodged these cuts, usually each year in a "doc fix" bill.

The bill was posted on the Rules Committee website late Monday night, which would allow Republicans to call it up Wednesday without violating their pledge to give people three days to read bills before voting on them.

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