GOP in the House Looks to Grand Bargain

Boehner looks to comprehensive package to raise debt ceiling.

House Speaker John Boehner speaks to members of the media after meeting with President Barack Obama on Oct. 2, 2013,  at the White House in Washington.
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As Republican lawmakers continue to peel away from House Speaker John Boehner in support of a no-strings-attached government funding bill, the House of Representatives turns to the next fiscal fight – the debt ceiling.

[READ: Obama Blames Boehner for Shutdown After Meeting]

While some shrugged at closing the government in an effort to stop Obamacare, many are completely opposed to defaulting on the country's debt.

Congress must increase the debt ceiling by Oct. 17, exactly 14 days away.

Thursday reports surfaced that Boehner, R-Ohio, was willing to raise the debt ceiling without a majority of his caucus behind him. That would leave him to rely on Democrats to get a debt ceiling increase across the finish line.

Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel said while the speaker is committed to ensuring the country pays its bills on time, he will pursue a more comprehensive debt reduction package in exchange for the increase.

"Speaker Boehner has always said that the United States will not default on its debt, but if we're going to raise the debt limit, we need to deal with the drivers of our debt and deficits," Steel said. "That's why we need a bill with cuts and reforms to get our economy moving again."

Those reforms may include tax reform and entitlement reform, but for now, many Republican members of the House acknowledge the Affordable Care Act may be off the negotiating table.

"We have tried very very hard to protect the American people from the harmful aspects of this health care law," says Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.

But Fortenberry says there may be a "small window of opportunity" to get some other Republican priorities passed in Congress now.

[ALSO: Government Shutdown Could Slam Into Debt Ceiling Fight]

"It wouldn't surprise me if [Boehner] is trying to work on what we call a 'grand bargain," Fortenberry says, admitting he'd be "open" to such an overhaul. "Maybe there is even a smaller window of opportunity to consider a whole range of policy reforms spending reforms and tax reforms that would really set us on a proper course."

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, expressed more optimism that the House could pass "a big plan."

"We are coming up against a wall here," Simpson says. "Congress works best when we are up against a wall. It seems like the only time we actually get anything done."

Some were not quite ready, however, to abandon a fight against Obamacare. Some believed the upcoming debt ceiling deadline would actually give conservatives more leverage to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

"Public opinion will settle this," says Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. "This is one of those rare times when it just comes together, it converges, and it will build up and the pressure on this pressure cooker gets greater and greater and greater."

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