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According to several GOP tax writers, Lew made the case in a private meeting with tax writers from both parties last week for action on the debt limit close to Labor Day, saying there is still uncertainty about future revenue projections and the size of payments to the government by Fannie Mae.
Several Republicans said they were skeptical of Lew’s request for quick action on a debt limit increase for the end of the summer. “I think that we’re all for doing it. We’d just like to see some debt reduction,” said John Thune of South Dakota, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
Lew’s “message was we should be creating economic certainty by getting it done as soon as possible and then going on to tax reform,” said Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., a senior tax writer.
Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the Labor Day target “was not a date certain. It was some time after Labor Day.”
A Senate GOP aide said at some point the administration will have to send a letter to Congress requesting an increase in borrowing authority, but he is unsure when that will happen.
Boehner’s proposal for “cuts and reforms” that exceed the amount of any debt limit increase drew praise from a number of Republicans. “It sounds like a promising approach,” said Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas.
But several senior Democrats lined up behind Obama’s long-standing call for a “clean” increase in the debt limit, separate from talks on the fiscal 2014 budget, a potential tax overhaul and other spending issues.
“We’re not playing with the debt limit. We’re not going to put the economy at risk over this discussion,” said Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray of Washington. She and other Democrats want a budget deal that replaces automatic cuts under the sequester with a blend of alternative cuts and tax increases.
Paul M. Krawzak contributed to this report.