January 17, 2013

Republicans discuss repairing image

House GOP members at a retreat examine their identity and gear up for a fight over spending.

By ROSALIND S. HELDERMAN and ED O'KEEFE The Washington Post

(Continued from page 1)

John Boehner
click image to enlarge

Speaker John Boehner, with other Republicans on Capitol Hill earlier this month, has told party members at a retreat that the House won’t act on gun control until the Senate does.

The Associated Press

MAJORITY IN POLL EXPECT ECONOMIC CRISIS IF CONGRESS FAILS TO EXTEND DEBT CEILING

Most Americans think jarring economic problems will erupt if lawmakers fail to increase the government's borrowing limit. Yet they're torn over how or even whether to raise it, leaning toward Republican demands that any boost be accompanied by spending cuts.

According to an Associated Press-GfK poll, 53 percent say that if the debt limit is not extended and the U.S. defaults, the country will face a major economic crisis. An additional 27 percent say such a crisis would be somewhat likely, while just 17 percent largely dismiss the prospects of such damage.

The poll's findings echo many economists' warnings that failure to raise the debt ceiling and the resulting, unprecedented federal default would risk wounding the world economy because many interest rates are pegged to the trustworthiness of the U.S. to pay its debts. President Obama and many Republicans agree with that, though some GOP lawmakers eager to force Obama to accept spending cuts have downplayed a default's impact.

When asked which political path to follow, 39 percent of poll respondents support the insistence by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that deep spending cuts be attached to any measure increasing the debt ceiling. That's more than the 30 percent who back Obama's demand that borrowing authority be raised quickly and not entwined with a bitter fight over trimming the budget.

An additional 21 percent oppose boosting the debt ceiling at all.

The poll involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,004 randomly chosen adults and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

-- The Associated Press

The House Republicans' retreat follows a rocky period for them politically. Besides Obama's defeat of Mitt Romney in November, Democrats enlarged their Senate majority and picked up eight House seats.

Lawmakers and staff members attending the retreat described the discussions as passionate and intense, but not angry.

"I think this is a time where now you can catch your breath a little," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., noting that the gathering comes just two months after Election Day and after weeks of wrangling over the "fiscal cliff."

The retreat will continue into Friday. One senior aide said that as of Thursday, the conversation was dominated by the fiscal debate. Members only briefly discussed gun control, a topic that Obama indicated this week will be a core plank of his second-term agenda. On that issue, House Speaker John Boehner told members privately what he has been saying publicly: The House will not act until it sees what the Senate does.

Republicans have spent more time broadly discussing a need to address the nation's immigration laws and they will hold a session Friday on "successful communications with minorities and women."

Walden, responsible for getting more Republicans elected to the House as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said he hopes the GOP will be more sensitive to how it appeals to Hispanics before future elections.

"We may not understand how what we say is interpreted by others and we have to be sensitive and understand the effect of our language," he said.

 

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