GOP Senators Okay With Raising the Debt Limit

Two Republican senators want to raise the debt limit, highlighting a divide between the two chambers on how to handle the next big financial showdown.

Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski this month criticized the Republican Party for its refusal to raise the limit without accompanying spending cuts.

"If you incur an obligation, you have a responsibility to pay for that," Murkowski told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner during a Jan. 9 editorial-board meting.

Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins agrees, The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported Tuesday: Collins's press aide provided a statement to Sargent that Collins believes the debt limit must be raised because "the U.S. cannot default on its obligations to pay for spending that has already occurred."

During fiscal-cliff negotiations with the White House and Senate Democrats, Republicans in the House and Senate both resisted any deal that would grant President Obama authority to raise the debt limit on his own. As Republicans resisted, that deal passed without a long-term debt-limit deal.

Since 2011, the debt-limit's battle lines have been clear: Democrats want to extend it cleanly, while Republicans demand that spending cuts must accompany any increase. Sens. Murkowski and Collins have simply proposed raising it, seemingly without political entanglements.

Rumblings of agreement with Democrats almost exclusively come from the upper chamber, while the more conservative House GOP continues to be a driver of opposition to President Obama. Cases in point: House Republicans' rejection of Speaker John Boehner's "Plan B" fiscal-cliff proposal, Democrats' abandonment of talks with Boehner in favor of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the cluster of House Republicans who voted against Boehner's reelection as speaker.

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