WASHINGTON â€” A bipartisan group of House members is working on a proposal to address the most urgent issue facing Congress when it returns in September: how to keep the government open and avoid the first-ever default on the nationâ€™s debt.
Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus are drafting proposals to present to the entire 43-member caucus when Congress returns after Labor Day, said caucus co-chairman Tom Reed, R-N.Y.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has warned congressional leaders that the government will run out of money to pay its bills by Sept. 29 unless lawmakers vote to raise the debt limit. Funding to keep the government open is set to expire two days later, on Oct. 1, unless Congress can agree on a spending deal during the approximately three weeks it will be in session in September.
â€œIâ€™m very optimistic that the caucus can come together on a consensus basis to put a proposal out in order to get through the shutdown, debt ceiling debate in a way that keeps the government open and we honor our debts,â€ Reed said in an interview.
Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., are working on ideas for the caucus, according to Reed’s office.Â Reed said he expects the proposal to be fiscally motivated and call for avoiding ideological debate.
â€œThereâ€™s going to have to be some type of negotiation,â€ he said, but members are considering a proposal that includes â€œgood governmentâ€ reforms and spending cap relief thatâ€™s acceptable to both parties.
More: Bipartisan House group: Stabilize health care markets with funding, less regulation
Background: Congress faces urgent deadlines to fund government, avert debt default
Last month, the caucus made a breakthrough on health care, releasing principles to help address uncertainty in the individual market thatâ€™s causing insurers to hike rates and leave Obamacareâ€™s insurance exchanges.
Reed, one of President Trumpâ€™s earliest supporters in Congress, said he is discussing the health care proposalÂ with the Trump administration and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which will begin holding health care hearings in September.
Contributing: Erin Kelly