WASHINGTON — House Republicans likely will be able to pass a fresh counteroffer for ending the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry said Tuesday morning.
The Nebraska Republican spoke to reporters as lawmakers left a two-hour House GOP conference meeting.
Fortenberry said the meeting featured “robust” debate over the best path forward.
“This is a difficult position to be in,” Fortenberry said. “There's other options that would be preferable, but this is where we are. Government needs to get back to work. We need to pay our bills with the debt limit. We also need to negotiate over the underlying problems that are driving the debt.”
Bipartisan Senate negotiations have led to an emerging proposal that would reopen the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.
That plan is expected to include new efforts to verify income levels for those seeking federal subsidies in the insurance marketplaces established under the new health care law.
The House Republican proposal was still being refined, but members leaving Tuesday's meeting described it as following the same time frame as the Senate proposal. It is expected to include a move to roll back a new tax on medical devices and eliminate taxpayer-funded contributions to the health insurance premiums of members of Congress, the president and certain political appointees in the executive branch.
“This is movement, trying to find a constructive way out,” Fortenberry said.
There were some rumblings that the House would approve the latest plan and leave town, but Fortenberry downplayed that possibility.
“We're here to work,” he said. “I can't imagine that until this is resolved there would be an exodus.”
He acknowledged that the situation has been a difficult one for House Speaker John Boehner, but he said Republican members are standing with their leader.
“It's a robust debate going on, among a team, among a family. People can push and shove, but it's still a family.”