House Republicans are discussing the prospect of a short-term extension in the nation's debt limit to avoid fault and give negotiations between lawmakers and the White House more time to succeed.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman and erstwhile GOP vice presidential candidate, told reporters at House Republicans' retreat that members were "discussing the virtue of a short term debt limit extension."
Ryan elaborated that the idea would be to raise the nation’s borrowing authority for a few months and tie the matter into discussions with the White House and Senate on the other fiscal issues facing the country, such as the automatic spending cuts associated with the sequester and how to fund the government in the next fiscal year.
The comment is a significant development because it suggests there is movement in the House GOP Conference to avoid the debt limit when it's scheduled to hit in February, and instead shift the political battle in their favor by transforming the debate into a fight over shutting down the government or offsetting $110 billion dollars in cuts to defense and domestic programs.
When asked by NBC News whether he believed the House GOP Conference was unified enough to not have a repeat of the fiscal cliff fiasco, when many Republican lawmakers were reluctant to support plans by the GOP leadership, Ryan said, “We want people to have clear view of what's coming so there are no surprises, that means setting expectations accordingly so we can move forward in a unified basis.”
Ryan spent the morning with House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., briefing members about the upcoming “triple threat” of fiscal issues to be played out in Washington over the late winter and spring. GOP aides tell NBC News the talks are part of an effort by the Republican leadership to gauge the mood of the conference as well as map out the best possible path for the party in the next few months, so far they consider the response from members to be "positive."
The retreat is the House GOP’s annual occasion for members to talk to leadership, relax with their spouses and kids and also learn from communication professionals about to contour their message to fit the electorate. In light of the drubbing the GOP received amongst women and minorities in the 2012 election, the retreat will feature a seminar titled: “Coalitions-Discussion on Successful Communication with Minorities and Women.”