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‘Six Weeks’



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On Wednesday afternoon, House Republicans huddled for an hour, mingling and conversing on the floor. As they processed a bill to restore death benefits to military families, they mostly discussed the debt ceiling. According to several members, there is a growing consensus, even among conservatives, to pass a six-week extension. “It’ll be for six weeks,” predicts a leadership aide. “People want to get back to spending cuts and Obamacare, and they know that any concessions will come from extended talks, so we’re moving in that direction.”

Officially, the leadership remains undecided, and the House GOP will hold a conference meeting later this morning to debate its next step. But the quiet acceptance of a short-term extension among rank-and-file Republicans gives Speaker John Boehner, who heads to the White House later today, a chance to avert default and eventually craft a larger fiscal bargain. “We’re telling folks, help us here, and we’ll work together moving forward,” says a veteran House Republican. “We know this isn’t perfect, but we’re not living in fantasyland, thinking we can get everything we want before the deadline.”

Boehner, though, knows the right’s enthusiasm for a short-term extension seems to vary by the hour, so there is also talk of refunding the government for six weeks, along with a debt-ceiling extension, in order to win Democratic support. But, for now, nothing is finalized, and the leadership is treading carefully. “We’ll talk about it more today at conference, see where things go,” says the House GOP veteran. “If the president can tell Democrats to back this, and we can keep our group united, then we’ll be able to give ourselves a breather.”



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