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GOP Filibusters Debt Limit Hike As Anxieties Flare Over Default

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AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

"We want a better [continuing resolution] and longer debt ceiling and don't view those as concessions," said a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

Tensions are flaring between House and Senate Republicans over how to defuse the crisis ahead of an Oct. 17 debt ceiling deadline. House GOP members expressed concerns during a private Saturday meeting that the Senate GOP would undercut and jam them by striking a deal with President Barack Obama that conservatives dislike.

The House GOP framework, pushed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), would raise the borrowing limit for six weeks while replacing across-the-board spending cuts (known as sequestration) with cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits. It would also set up formal negotiations to resolve spending disputes and address the next debt limit increase. But the White House and Democratic leaders have rebuffed that approach. "That's over with. It's done," Reid said of White House talks with the House GOP. "They're not talking anymore."

For Senate Republicans, the focus has been on the draft proposal by Collins to extend the debt limit through the end of the year and reopen the government for six months in exchange for a two-year delay of Obamacare's medical device tax and granting flexibility to government agencies when it comes implementing sequestration cuts. The plan is opposed by House conservatives and has now been shot down by Senate Democratic leaders.

"We need Senate Republicans to stand up and stand firm," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told GOP members, according to a source in the room.

"They're trying to cut the House out, and trying to jam us with the Senate," a fired-up Ryan told reporters after the GOP meeting. "We're not going to roll over and take that."

Meanwhile, Democrats are leaking concerns of their own that Obama may back down on his refusal to grant the GOP concessions before they agree to end the government shutdown and avert default. "I do fear the White House is up to something bad," a Democratic leadership aide told the Huffington Post. "[Obama] says over and over, 'I won't negotiate', but we know he loves to cave."

Reid has been the enforcer of the steely Democratic resolve against Republican hostage-taking during the shutdown and coming debt limit breach.

"It is really so sad what's happened to our country," he said on the Senate floor. "Defaulting on our debt would risk millions of American jobs. ... Social Security checks would likely be halted, Medicare payments and even paychecks for our troops wouldn't happen."

About The Author

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Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.