House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Thursday that Republicans are considering a short-term increase in the nation’s borrowing limit if the move paves the way for serious deficit-reduction discussions with President Obama and Senate Democrats.
The Wisconsin Republican said a short-term debt-ceiling increase is one of a variety of options that the GOP is weighing as it prepares for the fast-approaching fights on Capitol Hill over automatic spending cuts, the nation’s debt limit and future spending.
“We are discussing the possible virtue of a short-term debt extension so that we have a better chance of getting the Senate and White House involved in discussions in March,” Mr. Ryan said.
House GOP have gathered here at the Kingsmill Resort near Colonial Williamsburg, where they are trying to iron out some of the divisions within their ranks as they gear up for another round of high-profile fights over spending and taxes.
The divisions within the House Republican ranks took center stage in recent weeks, as the GOP-controlled House passed two proposals — one to raise taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year and another emergency funding bill for Sandy relief efforts — despite most of their own members voting against it.
Mr. Ryan, though, said on Thursday that he is confident that Republicans are in a better negotiating position than they were in the recent battle over tax cuts.
“The president had current law on his side” in the “fiscal cliff” fight, Mr. Ryan said, alluding to the fact that the George W. Bush-era tax cuts were scheduled to expire. “He wanted a lot of tax increases. The law was bringing him tax increases.
“Well, we want spending reductions. The law is bringing spending reductions. So, I think the backstop of current law is a different dynamic than it was in the fiscal cliff and I think it will bring the parties together.”