The United States may now have a budget but it doesn't necessarily mean the government will pay its bills.
At the annual retreat of the House Republican Caucus in Cambridge, Maryland on Thursday, members seemed ready for another showdown and were unwilling to accept a "clean" debt limit increase, one without any additional legislative language or restrictions. However Republicans were unclear what specific asks they would make in exchange for a debt ceiling vote.
Steve Scalise, the chair of the Republican Study Committee, told reporters that "reforms that control Washington spending always have been part of the discussion when it comes to the debt ceiling." He strongly urged the pasage of legislation that mandated that the government prioritize how it pays its obligations to avoid default in case of hitting the debt ceiling. This legislation passed the House in 2013. He did not offer any specific proposals. When a group of seven younger Republican members of Congress appeared before reporters on Thursday, none would commit to supporting a clean increase in the debt ceiling. Yet none were able to say what concrete demands they would make of the White House in exchange for lifting the limit on how much the federal government can borrow.
In fact, while the deadline approaches to avoid default at the end of February according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, discussions about Republican strategy are still "preliminary" according to Dave Camp, the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.