Additionally, Sen. Ted Cruz, the conservative Texan who has played a prominent role in this fall’s budget struggles, raised no objections.
Interviewed on radio KFYO in Lubbock, Texas, he said, “My understanding is this is being driven by House conservatives who are quite reasonably saying, ‘Listen, let’s focus on Obamacare, on winning the fight on Obamacare ... and let’s push the debt ceiling a little further down the road so that it doesn’t distract us from the fight we are in the middle of right now.”
For his part, Reid has proposed no-strings-attached legislation to raise the debt limit by $1.1 trillion, enough to prevent a recurrence of the current standoff until after the 2014 elections.
In remarks on the Senate floor during the day, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the GOP leader, said that Democratic measure “just won’t fly. ... The American people can be persuaded to raise the debt ceiling, but they’re not in any mood to simply hand over a blank check.”
Since the current standoff began more than two weeks ago, Republican demands have shifted continuously, while the president’s position has remained essentially unchanged.
The shutdown began on Oct. 1 after Obama ruled out any concessions that would defund, delay or otherwise change the new health care law. He said he would be willing to negotiate on a range of issues, but only after the shutdown was ended and the debt limit raised.
For their part, Republicans drafted a long list of demands to accompany any increase in the debt limit, including some that would raise the cost of Medicare for better-off beneficiaries, make changes to the health care law and roll back several environmental regulations either issued or in the planning stages by the administration.
In recent days, the focus has shifted from the shutdown to the threat of default, and Republicans have spoken less and less frequently about insisting on concessions in the health care law.
The call for negotiations on long-term deficit cuts would mark a return to basics for the House Republican majority.