House Republicans shift Obamacare demands to next fiscal fight

Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol September 26, 2013 in Washington, DC. Boehner signaled that he is urging Republican colleagues to remain flexible in negotiations to avert a governmental shutdown when federal funding runs out next week. Also pictured are (L-R) House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Win McNamee/Getty Images

Updated at 12 p.m. ET

Now that Congress has inched closer to passing a government spending bill without defunding Obamacare, House Republicans are shifting their campaign against the health care law to the next looming fiscal fight -- the debt limit.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday that House Republicans are introducing legislation "that ties important spending cuts and pro growth reforms to a debt limit increase."

Those reforms include delaying parts of Obamacare for a year, tax reforms and provisions to reduce energy costs, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said. More specifically, the plan reportedly includes provisions that address the development of the Keystone XL pipeline, EPA carbon regulations, coal ash regulations, parts of the Dodd Frank Act and more.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has warned Congress that if the U.S. doesn't raise the debt limit -- its legal borrowing authority -- by Oct. 17, the U.S. will no longer be able to borrow enough money to pay its bills.

President Obama has repeatedly said he refuses to negotiate over the debt limit given the potentially dire consequences of failing to raise it. In the worst case scenario, the U.S. could default on its loans. In 2011, the stock market fell 2,000 points and the United States' credit rating was lowered because of the mere threat of a default.

"This is the United States of America, we're not a deadbeat nation, we don't run out on our tab," Mr. Obama said at an event in Maryland Thursday. "We are the world's bedrock economy, the world's currency of choice. The entire world looks to us to make sure the world economy is stable. You don't mess with that. That's why I will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America."

Doug Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, told the House Budget Committee Thursday, "Defaulting on any obligation of the U.S. government would be a dangerous gamble. In a very uncertain world, the one thing everyone has been able to count on is that the U.S. government will pay its bills on time."

Acknowledging that the president doesn't want to negotiate over the debt limit, Boehner retorted Thursday, "I'm sorry, but it just doesn't work that way. We're not going to accept this new normal" of a weak economy.

Republicans insist that dismantling the health care law is a necessary part of reviving the economy. However, their efforts to defund the law through a pending spending bill have been blocked in the Democratic-led Senate.

On Wednesday -- after conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, railed against the health care law on the Senate floor for 21 hours -- the Senate voted unanimously to move forward with the legislation to keep the government funded for a few more months. In the House, Republicans added a provision to the bill to defund Obamacare, but the Senate is sure to remove that part before its final passage. The Senate will pass the bill by Saturday at the latest, though it could pass as early as Thursday.

Boehner would not speculate on how the House will respond after the Senate passes the spending bill (called a continuing resolution). If the House and Senate can't reconcile their versions before Oct. 1, the federal government could partially shut down. Boehner said he doesn't expect a government shutdown -- which suggests House Republican will relent and accept the bill without the provision to defund Obamacare. They may, however, add other, less controversial provisions.

"I've made it clear now for months and months and months, we don't want to see a government shutdown," Boehner said. "There will be options available to us."

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