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Bipartisan group of House members drafting proposal to avert shutdown, default

  • August 14, 2017

WASHINGTON — 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 nation’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.

“I’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,” 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. Reed said he expects the proposal to be fiscally motivated and call for avoiding ideological debate.

“There’s going to have to be some type of negotiation,” he said, but members are considering a proposal that includes “good government” reforms and spending cap relief that’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 that’s causing insurers to hike rates and leave Obamacare’s insurance exchanges.

Reed, one of President Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress, said he is discussing the health care proposal 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

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