Boehner defends debt demands to Lew

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) defended the GOP's debt-ceiling demands during a meeting on Wednesday with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

According to his office, Boehner laid out for Lew how previous Congresses, going back decades, have used a debate over the nation's borrowing cap as an opportunity to advance fiscal reforms. This time around should be no different, the Speaker said.

The meeting was the latest in a number of "routine" meetings between Boehner and Lew, according to the Speaker's office.

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The White House has insisted it will not negotiate with Republicans over boosting the nation's $16.7 trillion borrowing limit, contending that the nation's credit standing should not be used as a chip in congressional negotiations.

But Boehner's office says the debt limit has been used in the past to advance fiscal measures favored by both parties. They have put together a fact sheet listing previous times the debt limit was tied to fiscal measures, such as an omnibus budget reconciliation deal in 1990.

While they have yet to make specific demands, Republicans have indicated they could push for entitlement reforms, tax reform or other fiscal changes as part of any debt limit boost this fall. Congress needs to raise the borrowing limit by mid-October, according to the Treasury Department.

For his part, Lew cautioned Boehner that, if Congress did not act quickly to raise the debt limit, there could be major turmoil in the nation's financial markets and economy, according to a Treasury official.

And Lew has argued that while there may be a history of tying fiscal reforms to the debt limit, the standoff driven by House Republicans in the summer of 2011 changed the equation. Previously a debt-limit vote may have driven debate, but the outcome was never in question, while conservatives opened the door in 2011 to actually not boosting that limit, he contends.

"2011 was the very first time in, certainly, my years in Washington … where there was debate about whether or not to default," he told CNBC in August. "We actually saw the specter of default raised."

Lew and Boehner huddled on the debt limit even as Congress searches for a way to avoid a government shutdown.

Republican leaders this week delayed a vote on a plan to keep the government open after Oct. 1 when conservatives protested that it wouldn't require the defunding of ObamaCare.

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