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House Republicans To Demand Condition For Raising Debt Limit

WASHINGTON, DC -- House Republicans will demand a condition in return for raising the debt limit, according lawmakers following a closed-door GOP meeting on Monday.
Washington (CNN) - House Republicans will demand a condition in return for raising the debt limit, according lawmakers following a closed-door GOP meeting on Monday.

The vote to raise the government's borrowing authority, which is necessary to pay its bills, could come as early as Wednesday but nothing is scheduled yet.

The plan would raise the debt limit until March 2015, which gets Congress beyond the midterm elections.

It also would repeal cuts to military pensions that were part of the recently passed budget. Reduced annual cost-of-living increases for some veterans were part of a compromise spending deal for the current fiscal year.

Repealing the pension cuts under the Republican plan would be paid for by extending for one year sweeping federal spending reductions known as sequester.

Republicans dropped another demand floated earlier - to attach the so-called "doc fix" to the debt bill, which would head off cuts to physicians who treat Medicare patients.

Congressional Democrats and the White House have insisted they want "clean" debt-ceiling legislation - meaning no conditions attached.

House Republicans huddled Monday to try to get consensus on the measure, according to two senior House GOP leadership aides.

But internal divisions among members are potentially pushing the issue right up to the deadline at the end of the month.

The pressure to come up with a plan now is due to the calendar.

The House is in session through Wednesday because Democrats meet for their annual retreat at the end of the week and the chamber is in recess next week.

If a vote doesn't happen by Wednesday the debate gets pushed until February 25 - just two days before the Treasury Department says it will no longer be able to pay all of the government's bills.

House Speaker John Boehner and top GOP leaders still want to get some concessions in return for agreeing to more federal borrowing.

Since congressional Democrats insist they will not negotiate on the measure, Boehner is still searching for a proposal that could pass with largely with Republican votes.

House GOP leaders know a group of conservatives will oppose any debt measure. Many of those lawmakers are urging Boehner to just schedule a vote on a "clean" bill and move on.

Failure to get agreement on a GOP plan this week make it more likely he will allow a vote without conditions that would pass with mostly Democratic support.

One Republican told CNN the response to the GOP leadership proposal was "all over the place."

One conservative, Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, told reporters that he opposed the way Republicans would pay for the plan, and he didn't believe it would get the 218 votes needed to pass.

Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Arizona, said he believes Democrats will have to help pass the bill.

"I believe they will. You can take that to the bank," he said. "It's the only proposal I think that they believe that enough Republicans and Democrats will vote for it to get it through."

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Colorado, said that progress is still needed.

"We don't have a bill yet, all we did was discuss a variety of concepts. We'll see where we end up," he said.

Republicans across the ideological spectrum agree that after last October's federal government shutdown it's not worth getting into a big battle over must-pass legislation that some warn could rattle financial markets.

But Democrats are likely to continue to reject proposals to add items to the bill.

"We're not going to pay a ransom of any kind in return for Congress doing its job. We'll take Republican leaders at their word when they say they will not let the United States default," White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Monday.



(CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh.  CNN's Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report)

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