US Republican leaders propose linking debt limit to military cut

Updated: 2014-02-11 10:12


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WASHINGTON - US Republican leaders in the US House of Representatives will seek to make a 13-month extension of the federal debt limit conditional on the repeal of a planned cut in military pension benefits, lawmakers said on Monday.

Republicans intend to seek a House vote on their plan on Wednesday, but it will likely need Democratic support to pass after a number of Republicans expressed skepticism about the proposal.

In a show of bipartisan support to roll back the pension cut, the US Senate voted 94-0 on Monday to advance a similar measure past a procedural hurdle.

The US Treasury has said it will exhaust all remaining borrowing capacity if the $17 trillion debt limit is not increased by February 27 and could begin to experience payment difficulties shortly thereafter.

The modest proposal from the Republican leadership came after three years of partisan battles over the debt limit and other fiscal deadlines, in which Republicans sought ambitious deficit reduction and major changes to President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law.

"It's the only proposal I think that they felt that enough Republicans and Democrats would vote for," Republican Representative Matt Salmon said of his party's leaders.

The small cut to cost-of-living increases for non-disabled military retirees of working age was approved in December as part of a bipartisan budget deal. Repealing it will cost $6.9 billion over 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office said on Monday.

That would be paid for by extending automatic, "sequester" spending cuts for an additional year, through 2024. US borrowing authority would be extended through March 2015, lawmakers said.

After a meeting where the plan was unveiled, Republican Representative Mo Brooks said many in his party would oppose the plan because it increased both the debt ceiling and near-term spending, with offsetting savings coming too far in the future.