House Republican breaks with Senate GOP on debt ceiling strategy

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The budget reconciliation process stemming from a House-Senate conference can be used to pass legislation in the Senate with a simple majority vote. 

Senate Republicans say using the process for the debt ceiling would deprive them of a voice in the process.

“I’m not saying they are right or wrong,” Price said. “It is the difference between a majority and a minority.”

He said the House GOP majority’s role is to govern while the Senate GOP minority’s role is to draw contrasts. 

Price said that he is optimistic that a major deficit agreement can come out of the budget conference but said delaying the meeting until a framework can be agreed upon makes the most sense.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been conducting listening sessions with members to explore how to address the debt ceiling. His office emphasized that the process is still ongoing when asked about the budget conference idea.

“The Speaker, other House Republican leaders, members and – most importantly – the American people, are just beginning to discuss what Congress will do to raise the debt limit in a manner consistent with the ‘Boehner Rule,’ which requires spending cuts or reforms greater than the increase," spokesman Michael Steel said.

Price said Republicans see waiting on a budget conference as giving them leverage.

As the need to raise the debt ceiling grows in October or November, Democrats will drop their insistence on not attaching reforms to the debt ceiling bill, he predicted.

Price said that he personally would try to attach a Medicare and Medicaid overhaul, pro-growth tax reform and dollar-for-dollar spending cuts to the debt ceiling bill but said that some proposals may be too ambitious.

“It is important to put an array of options on the table,” he said. “Being wedded to just one would not be useful at this point.”

He suggested just attaching tax reform to the debt ceiling would tend to lower the size of the increase for the $16.4 trillion limit.

The office of Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Republicans are wrong to think that waiting will give them leverage on the debt- eiling.

"The federal government is not going to default on its debt and any leverage Republicans think they have by pushing negotiations closer to the debt limit simply doesn’t exist," Budget Committee spokesman Eli Zupnick said.

"Regardless of which process is ultimately used to lift the debt ceiling, House and Senate Republicans should get on the same page so that we can start a bipartisan conference committee as quickly as possible and work toward a budget deal so we can stop lurching from crisis to crisis.”

— This story was last updated at 3:12 p.m.