House Dems on GOP Plan: What About the Government?
By Siobhan Hughes and Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2013
The latest Republican proposal to raise the U.S. borrowing limit for just six weeks met with a lukewarm reception from House Democrats, who worried the plan would fail to restore government operations.
But they acknowledged they had little choice but to consider supporting the extension, which would avoid a debt limit crisis while setting the stage for a new round of broad budget negotiations. The proposal would extend the debt ceiling, currently set at $16.7 trillion, for six weeks and includes a provision to permanently ban the Treasury Department from using extraordinary measures to avoid default.
“I think a six-week lifting of the debt ceiling is not the right way to go,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) told reporters, saying she would prefer a one-year extension. “But nonetheless let’s see what they have to offer.”
“I’m not going to reject it out of hand,” Rep. Steve Israel (D., N.Y.) said. “I do think that it’s only fair that if you’re going to lift the ceiling, you ought to open up the doors. I fail to understand why Republicans won’t do both and put this issue behind them.”
Mr. Israel, who also runs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of the House Democrats, said that the budget crisis had already begun to help Democrats in some conservative-leaning districts. “Where top-tier recruits didn’t see a path a month ago, the door is now open in those districts.”
“That’s better than denial that it would be a problem, so that’s a small step forward,” Rep. Sandy Levin (D., Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters. “But we have to reopen the government. The notion that we would keep the government closed for six more weeks at least – we just can’t do that.”
Rep. Jim McDermott (D., Wash.) declined to say whether he would support the House GOP plan, but made clear he thought it was not the best idea.
“I spent my life working in mental hospitals, and I’ve been in places that were a lot more sane than what’s going on here,” said Mr. McDermott, a psychiatrist. “I don’t know how to respond rationally, so occasionally I use a four-letter word.”