House Republicans will gather this evening for a special conference meeting to consider a proposal to suspend the debt limit for a year in exchange for restoring recent cuts to military retirement benefits.
A bipartisan budget agreement signed into law last month reduced the cost of living adjustment by 1 percent for future retirees every year until the retiree is 62 years old. That cut amounts to about $100,000 less in benefits, a cut of more than 5 percent, over the life of retirement.
While the budding proposal is said to be the GOP’s leading option, aides cautioned that no decisions will be finalized until lawmakers have an opportunity to debate the issue this evening. If the conference signs off on the prospective plan, a vote could come as soon as Wednesday.
President Obama and Congressional Democrats have insisted they will not negotiate with Republicans and have demanded a clean debt limit increase. Even some Republicans have publicly questioned the wisdom of engaging in another contentious battle.
“Republican leaders shouldn’t need another meeting to figure out that debt limit brinkmanship doesn’t work because they are even hearing from their own Tea Party members that they should give up and walk back the ransom demands,” Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., said. “And when even the Tea Party is admitting defeat, it is time for Speaker Boehner to end the drama and uncertainty.”
Some Republicans also favor adding a provision to reform the Standard Growth Rate reimbursement rate for physicians providing Medicare services, known around Washington as the so-called “Doc Fix.” The Doc Fix has generally enjoyed bipartisan support throughout Congress, although a string of recent budget agreements have only temporarily addressed the gap in funding.
Last week, Boehner stressed that there are no proposals on the table that have secured the support of 218 House Republicans.
“Mother Theresa is a saint now, but, you know, if the Congress wanted to make her a saint and attach that to the debt ceiling, we probably couldn’t get 218 Republican votes,” Boehner said Thursday.
The House is not in session Thursday or Friday to accommodate lawmakers attending the House Democratic Issues Conference in Cambridge, Md.
ABC News’ Arlette Saenz contributed to this report