GOP Shifts Focus From ObamaCare to Broader Deal

Boehner seeks 'grand bargain' to reopen government, raise debt ceiling

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 4, 2013 7:36 AM CDT

(Newser) – As week one of the government shutdown comes to a close, you can pretty much scrap the idea that lawmakers will reach a deal to reopen it and then move on to the debt ceiling. It's clear that John Boehner has shifted strategy and now wants to negotiate one big deal to solve both problems at once—before the Oct. 17 default deadline, report the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. In other words, Republicans have put aside their single-minded focus to defund ObamaCare and now want to forge a deal—a "grand bargain," to use a familiar DC phrase—to reduce the size of government.

"ObamaCare's just part of it," says GOP Rep. Charles Boustany. "We're going to try to get what we can, but we understand that's the president's legacy. The bigger problem facing the country, in my mind, is the debt, and the fact that we have entitlement programs that are still growing without end in sight. And we need tax reform." The big hitch, of course, is that Republicans want to negotiate all this before the debt ceiling deadline, while the White House and Democrats insist that they'll negotiate only after Republicans raise the ceiling without conditions. (Reports surfaced yesterday that Boehner wants to avoid a default at all costs, even if it means striking a deal with Democrats.) So what next? House Republicans meet today, though "honestly, I don't know what we're going to do," Rep. Mike Simpson tells the Hill. One bit of good news for the 800,000 furloughed federal workers: Lawmakers are poised to make sure they get paid retroactively, reports the Washington Post.

House Speaker John Boehner arrives on Capitol Hill Thursday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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