WASHINGTON — The words “healthcare” and “Obamacare” went all but unmentioned at a House Republican Leadership press conference Thursday, marking a change in tone as the House trains its focus on the debt limit and prepares to offer a short term increase.
When House leadership and Committee chairs attend a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama later this afternoon, they will offer a short term increase of the debt ceiling and a promise to go to conference with the Senate on the budget, in exchange for negotiations to reopen the government and address the underlying issues that are hurting the country.
Citing “the pressing need to open this government again,” GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers said they would “offer legislation that will offer a temporary increase in the debt ceiling to allow us some time to continue this conversation because it is time for solutions.” The legislation would raise the debt ceiling through November 22.
Speaker John Boehner described it as a “good faith effort on our part to move halfway, halfway to what [the president has] demanded in order to have these conversations begin.”
“When we make an offer today for a temporary extension, we’re looking for a structure that puts us on a path to get a budget, to take care of the debt, and move this economy in a stronger position,” said Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
Leadership made no reference to Obamacare, the sticking point that led to the government being shutdown when Democrats refused to give any concessions on the healthcare law as Republicans were requesting.
When asked a question on the topic by a reporter, Boehner responded: “If ands and buts were candy and nuts, everyday would be Christmas,” before ending the press conference.
There has been a noticeable shift in tone away from the topic of defunding or delaying Obamacare in the past several days. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Thursday suggesting focusing on reforming entitlement programs and the tax code in exchange for a debt ceiling raise and re-opening the government.
Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said Wednesday that the focus of the fight needed to be on the healthcare law.
“This is a fight about Obamacare,” Needham told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Wednesday. “And the attention of Republicans and conservatives needs to be back on Obamacare and not on other ways out of this situation.”
But, he said Heritage would not get involved in a debt limit fight and would give Boehner wiggle room to propose a short term debt limit.