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Senate GOP growing impatient with House

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Posted at 6:18 PM, Oct 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-11 20:18:50-04
By Dana Bash

CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent

(CNN) — House Speaker John Boehner has a day or two max to strike a debt ceiling and government funding deal before some of his Republican Senate colleagues move more aggressively on their own ideas, several impatient GOP Senators have told CNN.

The Senators say they are willing to give Boehner a bit more time, about 24 to 48 hours, to come to an agreement with the White House to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government.

One option Boehner is currently pursuing, a six week increase to the debt ceiling, is becoming more and more unpopular, say multiple Senate GOP sources.

That plan would push the new deadline for raising U.S. borrowing authority to the end of November, just in time for Thanksgiving and the holiday shopping season, which could hurt retailers and cause economic repercussions.

The Senate sources are also extremely concerned about the partial government shutdown, which House Republican leadership wants to deal with only after the debt ceiling is raised.

While the shutdown has done no one any favors in the polls, it has been particularly damaging to the Republican Party, whose approval rating is at near-historic lows.

A bipartisan group of about 10 senators, led by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, met Friday afternoon to try to find a way forward in the Senate, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Collins’ plan for a longer extension of the debt limit and government funding has gained some traction. Her proposal would repeal the 2.3% tax on medical devices, which is used to help pay for Obamacare, and give federal agencies greater flexibility to deal with the forced spending cuts known as sequestration.

Democrats are unlikely to give sequester flexibility a warm reception but the broader concept of long-term solutions on the debt ceiling and government funding bill seem to be gaining bipartisan steam in the Senate. Repeal of the medical device tax is also a popular idea among Senate Democrats, receiving an overwhelming majority in one vote.

Another popular idea, particularly among conservatives determined to score a victory against the Affordable Care Act, would be to institute income verification for those receiving Obamacare subsidies, meant to prevent fraud.

One GOP Senator said an idea discussed with the President in a Friday morning meeting was to add a provision to the government spending bill that would replace the sequester—which would appeal to Democrats–with some reforms to Medicare proposed by the President, which appeal to Republicans who are concerned about entitlement spending’s long-term impact on the debt.

CNN’s Bryan Koenig contributed to this report.

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