The battle over the government shutdown in Washington, D.C. has been raging for nearly two weeks, but it has now morphed into a larger debate about the nation's debt and spending. That's because the U.S. is set to hit its so-called debt ceiling -- the limit for its borrowing authority -- next Thursday unless Congress acts. President Obama is calling for a so-called clean debt ceiling extension, but Republicans in the House and Senate will not let that happen. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told Fox News this week that it would be irresponsible to extend the debt ceiling with no strings attached. "A clean debt ceiling increase is basically saying we're not going to do anything to deal with $17 trillion in debt before we give the President another trillion dollars on this maxed-out credit card," says Cornyn.
Fellow Texas Republicans are singing a similar tune. Woodlands Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) says any raise in the debt ceiling needs to be coupled with reforms to the nation's long-term spending. "The sequester has been helpful, but we've really been stepping over dollars to pick up dimes there," he tells Fox News. "We think the big challenges are the entitlements." House Speaker John Boehner has proposed a compromise that would extend the debt ceiling for six weeks to allow negotiations to continue on spending and tax reform. Brady signaled he would support such a plan if it meant getting real reforms. "What we really need at the end of the day is spending caps, guard rails around future spending from Congress," he says. "We just need more time, I think, to lay that out."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) rejected the Boehner compromise on Thursday, saying any debt ceiling agreement also needs to end the current government shutdown. President Obama met for 90 minutes with Boehner and other GOP House leaders at the White House, but both sides emerged with only the promise of more talks. Regardless of what happens with the shutdown, Cornyn wants to see Republicans stand their ground on the debt ceiling. "We need to hold the line against this irresponsible spending and debt," he says. "This is the fight for the future of our country and for our children."