Ryan says Budget Committee is drafting legislation based on "hunches" about possible debt deal 

While a deal to raise the debt ceiling is still eluding negotiators, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says his staff is already busy putting potential compromises in legislative language so they can react as quickly as possible if and when an agreement is struck.

“We’re writing stuff right now,” Ryan told me in a phone interview this afternoon. “Our Budget Committee staff is already writing things as contingencies. So we’re already preparing legislation based upon hunches of where this is going so that it’s ready.”

Ryan declined to go into specifics, nor would he speculate on how quickly the Congressional Budget Office could score any deal.

“It just depends on how complicated (the deal) is, which determines how fast you can turn it around from a drafting and scoring perspective,” he said. “But we’re already drafting, we’ve been drafting for two weeks, possible inclusions. We’re making sure we’ve got language ready that we can predict.”

Given the time it takes to draft, score, and then pass legislation through both chambers of Congress, I asked Ryan whether he thought it was possible we’d see a short-term debt ceiling hike to buy more time if the parties have an agreement in principle. But he said, “It just doesn’t serve us to answer that question.”

I also asked Ryan whether he thought the “last resort” framework proposed by Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was just a way of allowing people to claim they didn’t vote to raise the debt limit even though they effectively did.

 “I think you need to have a decent spending cut attached to this plan, if only for the credit markets sake,” Ryan said. “I don’t think you can just do a hand washing exercise (whether that is hand washing aside, and that’s a legitimate point and debate) I think you gotta have a spending cut attached to this thing. It’s not going to be the kind of spending cut that I want, but you need a spending cut. As for the rest of it, it’s premature to get into what it’s going to look like.”

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