House Republicans to tie debt ceiling hike to GOP wish list

Greg Nash

House Republicans plan to tie an increase in the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling to a broad GOP wish list that includes delaying ObamaCare for a full year. 

The House Republican list circulating on K Street indicates the GOP also hopes to kick-start tax reform, permit the Keystone XL oil pipeline and trim a slew of federal regulations in exchange for a borrowing boost.

The move to the debt ceiling comes as Congress moves toward a possible government shutdown on Oct. 1. Moving to the debt ceiling fight, which Republican leaders have long seen as stronger ground, could be a way to convince rank-and-file Republicans to fight their spending and healthcare battles there rather than on a government funding bill. 

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The list, obtained from a K Street source, indicates that Republicans would agree to hike the borrowing limit through 2014 but only in exchange for a host of previously stalled GOP priorities likely to be met with hot opposition from Democrats and the White House.

A House Republican leadership aide cautioned that changes had been made to the provisions being attached to the debt ceiling hike. The aide noted that nothing was final until the full conference meets again behind closed doors Thursday morning.

The two parties have about three weeks to hammer out a debt limit deal, after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Congress Wednesday that the government faced an Oct. 17 deadline for raising the limit. House Republican leaders are expected to unveil their debt-limit measure Wednesday afternoon, and a vote could come later this week.

The proposed package contains a handful of “economic growth provisions,” as well as between $192 billion and $256 billion in budget savings stemming from healthcare measures. A GOP aide confirmed the broad outline as something that has been circulating, but did not confirm the specifics.

Besides delaying the entire healthcare law for a year, Republicans would likely try to eliminate a fund for prevention and public health programs, which the administration has tapped to pay for other parts of the ObamaCare implementation effort.

The GOP would eliminate a loophole that allows states to drive up the federal government's share of Medicaid spending, which Republicans say would save $118 billion.

Republicans will likely propose requiring wealthier seniors to pay more for their Medicare benefits — an idea Obama has endorsed.

The list also includes medical malpractice reform, which the GOP estimates would save roughly $50 billion, and cuts in federal payments to certain hospitals.

The GOP measure also takes aim at the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.

The list indicates Republicans want to repeal a power granted to banking regulators to step in and temporarily use taxpayer funds to wind down failing financial institutions.

Republicans have tried to trim that “orderly liquidation authority” in the past.

The package also would alter the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), seemingly in a way to bring its budget under the control of Congress. Funding is currently provided outside the appropriations process, despite Republican efforts.

The lists suggest the measure would force Obama to approve the proposed Keystone pipeline, increase energy production offshore and on federal lands, and block greenhouse gas regulations.

It would eliminate the Social Service Block Grant program, which gives states funds to spend on services of their choosing.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the House Budget Committee chairman, zeroed out that program in his last two budget proposals.

The list also shows the GOP wants to reform the Federal Employee Retirement System, which they have called overly generous compared to the private sector, to the tune of $20 billion to $84 billion in savings. 

The list includes a number of major regulatory changes, including the REINS Act, a bill pushed by House Republicans that would require Congress to sign off on any major regulations. The list indicates Republicans want to provide small businesses with more flexibility in complying with certain regulations.

Republicans are also looking to require individuals seeking a child tax credit to provide that child's Social Security number to receive that benefit.

— This story was posted at 10:46 a.m. and updated at 1:03 p.m.