POLITICS: PennAve

Republicans ask Obama administration what kind of debt ceiling hike it is seeking

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Treasury,Debt Ceiling,PennAve,Joseph Lawler,Economy,Budgets and Deficits,Jack Lew

Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee are asking the Obama administration how large of a hike in the debt ceiling it intends to seek in an effort to prompt negotiations that the administration continues to insist will not happen.

In a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Wednesday, the lawmakers made clear they'd seek spending cuts as part of any agreement to increase the debt ceiling.

"We ask that the president begin discussions now to combat our long-term debt through meaningful entitlement reforms," the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent by Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Finance Committee's top Republican, and eight other Republicans.

President Obama called House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Friday and told him he had no intention of negotiating over the debt ceiling this time around, a stance reiterated by Lew this week. Administration officials insist that such talks hurt the economy in 2011 and don't want to repeat the experience.

That means that there have been few discussions about raising the limit, even though, as Lew warned early Wednesday, the Treasury is on pace to run out of guaranteed resources with which to pay the government's bills by Oct. 17.

Separately, the Congressional Budget Office released a report Wednesday saying Treasury will run out of money on Oct. 22, five days later than the Treasury expects.

Before addressing the debt ceiling, Congress must resolve a bitter fight over government funding needed to avoid a shutdown by the end of the month. That struggle has been in the spotlight since legislators returned from recess earlier this month, diverting lawmakers from the impending debt ceiling deadline. The House is expected to begin working on a bill to raise the debt ceiling this week.

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