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Boehner floats proposal to extend debt-ceiling deadline

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 11:55 a.m. CST

WASHINGTON (MCT) — House Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday proposed a six-week extension of the federal debt limit — no conditions attached — but it was unclear if a majority of his fellow Republicans would support it.

Even some GOP leaders on Boehner's team balked at the proposal because it failed to include any of the party's demands for cutting spending or blocking President Obama's health care law.

But in a brief news conference Thursday morning, senior Republicans stood with Boehner as he publicly unveiled the proposal, declaring that it was "time for leadership."

Boehner's plan would not reopen government agencies currently closed for lack of funds.

The White House panned the idea because it did not include a reopening of government agencies, but indicated that the short-term nature of Boehner's plan would be acceptable.

"Congress needs to pass a clean debt limit increase and a funding bill to reopen the government," a White House official said in a statement.

"Once Republicans in Congress act to remove the threat of default and end this harmful government shutdown, the president will be willing to negotiate on a broader budget agreement," the official said.

Despite the continued sharp rhetoric in Washington, financial markets rose sharply on indications that a deal was in the works.

Earlier in the day, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew repeated his warnings that failure to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17 could "deeply damage" the economic recovery and "the jobs and savings of millions of Americans."

Some GOP lawmakers, however, remained uncertain about whether they could back Boehner's plan.

"That's a hard question to answer directly," Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said as he emerged from a morning meeting of Republican lawmakers in the Capitol basement.

"We only have rare opportunities to change that trajectory" of government spending, he said. "I don't want to miss that opportunity." ___ (c)2013 Tribune Co.

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