WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Republicans are weighing a short-term debt limit increase with no added policy changes, such as deficit-reduction requirements, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.
The source, who asked not to be identified, said the initiative gained steam after the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank began pushing for this kind of straightforward debt limit increase, albeit a short-term one, that Democrats have been insisting upon.
If such a bill moves forward in the House it would represent a major shift in position.
The Heritage Foundation, headed by former Senator Jim DeMint, holds sway with Tea Party and other conservative activists in Congress. Earlier this year, the group took a hard-line stance against the kind of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that passed the Senate and is stalled in the House.
A Senate Democratic aide, however, said it was unclear whether House Republicans, if they pursued this "clean" debt ceiling plan, would allow legislation to reopen the government, which has been partially shut since October 1.
President Barack Obama and his Democrats in Congress have insisted that the debt limit be increased before an October 17 deadline and the government be reopened unconditionally. Only then, Obama has promised, would he would enter into deficit-reduction negotiations with Republicans.
Aides said raising the debt limit while keeping the federal government shut could give House conservatives more time to push for changes to the president's 2010 health care law, which most Republicans oppose.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by James Dalgleish)