Hopes For A Senate Deal Now Hinge On Harry Reid And Mitch McConnell

Harry and Mitch to the rescue?

Harry Reid Mitch McConnell

As I noted this morning, with the House of Representatives out of town for the weekend and negotiations for a Continuing Resolution/Debt Ceiling deal with the White House apparently stalemated, all eyes have turned to the Senate. Unfortunately, things don’t seem to be going much better over there:

It’s now the Harry and Mitch show.

After Senate Democratic leaders rejected a proposal Saturday by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to end the budget impasse, the burden to find a solution now falls squarely on Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — two shrewd tacticians who have a long, complicated and contentious personal and political history with each other.

Republican senators, eager for a way out of a shutdown fight that has roiled their party’s brand, reacted to the leadership discussions positively, believing that the two crafty dealmakers could concoct a proposal to reopen the government and avert the nation’s first-ever default as soon as next week.

Reid, however, was notably more dour.

When asked if he is confident he could reach a deal with McConnell, Reid told POLITICO: “No.”

“I’m just doing my best, I’m not confident in anything in the way Republicans have acted,” the Nevada Democrat said.

McConnell, along with his close ally Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), quietly met with Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) early Saturday to find a way out of the first possible default in U.S. history when the Treasury Department begins to run out of money Oct. 17. While senators said it was a positive discussion, how the impasse is resolved from here remains a major question going forward.

“Very pleasant” was how Reid described the meeting.

“They had a good talk this morning,” said Schumer, who has had about a dozen Senate Republicans reach out to him in recent days pushing for a deal.

“We had a good meeting,” McConnell added.

The failure of the long term debt ceiling bill to achieve cloture had been expected, so that’s not necessarily a set back. However, the out of hand rejection of the plan that Susan Collins had developed along with Joe Manchin and other Senators (including Kelly Ayotte and Lisa Murkowski) is particularly disheartening for anyone who was hoping for a quick and easy resolution of the crises gripping Washington. While it’s fate in the House was by no means certain, the plan contained enough of what both sides seemed to be saying they wanted out of this whole mess that it seemed as though it could have formed the basis for some kind of deal. It included a sop to the House conservatives in the form of a delay in the implementation of the Medical Device Tax, and it satisfied one of President Obama’s objections to the plan the House was floating yesterday by extending the debt ceiling out past the Christmas Season. Moreover, Collins, Manchin, Ayotte, and Murkowski are generally seen as moderates in both of their respective caucuses so it’s not as if this is a proposal out of left or right field that should have been unacceptable on its face. Thus, its somewhat unclear why this was rejected out of hand, especially given the fact that it is now blindingly obvious that the immediate crisis is going to require everyone to give on something, including the Democrat’s insistence that any Continuing Resolution or increase in the Debt Ceiling be “clean.”

So now, it appears that the next phase of this particular bit of kabuki theater is in the hands of the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and their respective confidants. Given the fact that Reid and McConnell have proven singularly unable to come up with workable proposals during past crisis, this isn’t really a sign of hope. Nonetheless, it’s apparently what we’re left with at this point, and the terms they’re arguing over are roughly something like this:

McConnell, sources said, is eager to lock in lower-funding numbers at next year’s $967-billion level after the automatic sequestration cuts take effect. That number is too low for Democrats, but sources familiar with the talks said they were willing to agree to a stop-gap spending bill until mid-January at the $986 billion level before the new round of sequestration cuts take effect. It’s unclear whether McConnell would go for that.

Moreover, Democrats want a long-term increase in the $16.7 trillion national debt ceiling — potentially through next year — something Republicans blocked in a 53-45 vote in the Senate on Saturday afternoon. They want something far longer than what Collins proposed, which was through the end of January.

It’s far from clear whether Republicans will get anything out of Obamacare, even though GOP demands to gut the controversial law was the chief disagreement that spurred the first government shutdown in 17 years. Potentially, Republicans may get a two-year delay of the 2.3 percent medical device tax in the law, given the levy’s unpopularity even among Democrats. Moreover, in recent days, Republicans have been asking for a requirement for income verification of Obamacare subsidies as part of a deal.

The last time that we were at this point was during the Fiscal Cliff negotiations last year and Reid and McConnell were unable to reach a deal. What led to a resolution in that case was the last minute intervention of Vice-President Biden into the process and the deal he ended up striking with McConnell that managed to end that particular mess at largely the last minute. So far, Biden has not been a public face for the Administration in these crises and there have been some reports that he has been largely frozen out of the process by Obama aides who think he gave away too much the last time he got involved. At the same time, though, if Reid and McConnell fail to reach an agreement I wouldn’t be surprised to see Biden come in at the last minute like he did last time. The question now is whether a deal can be reached in time.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Health Care, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    This crisis is no longer the main point. The point is to kill this as a tactic. This Republican nonsense has got to stop, we cannot operate a government this way. The Republicans have to be beaten, be seen to be beaten, to feel beaten, to know deep down in their bones that this b.s.of theirs is over.

  2. James Pearce says:

    Thus, its somewhat unclear why this was rejected out of hand, especially given the fact that it is now blindingly obvious that the immediate crisis is going to require everyone to give on something, including the Democrat’s insistence that any Continuing Resolution or increase in the Debt Ceiling be “clean.”

    It’s perfectly clear. Republicans chose to use the debt ceiling and the CR to create an “immediate crisis” in order to extract concessions that they would not get any other way. The White House does not want to legitimize this tactic.

    If the norm becomes “I gave on something” rather than “don’t do that,” then we can expect an “immediate crisis” every time we have divided government.

    I think we should just all acknowledge that a Republican capitulation is the only way we’re going to get a deal. That sucks for them, but it’s an old maxim that says if you play with fire, you may get burned.

  3. Tim D. says:

    @michael reynolds: I agree. I just don’t see Obama signing anything that can be interpreted as legitimizing the hostage-taking as a tactic. I think they’d rather default now and use their polling advantage with the public to increase pressure on the Rs, rather than default in a few months after the next crisis after Cruz et al are feeling bolder.

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    @michael reynolds: I agree! A settlement will depend at this point on how much pressure Wall Street can put on McConnell and Boehner. Nothing will pass the House without Democratic votes.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Hopes For A Senate Deal Now Hinge On Harry Reid And Mitch McConnell

    We are DOOOOOOOOOMMMED….

  6. Xenos says:

    The failure of the long term debt ceiling bill to achieve cloture had been expected, so that’s not necessarily a set back

    Interesting use of the passive voice, Doug. Do you think you are fooling your readers? The bill did noit fail to achieve cloture, it was filibustered and killed by the GOP Senate acting as a near whole.

    This dishonest language may fool the teatards and make regular Republicans feel better about what they are doing, but it does not fool the public at large.

  7. Jr says:

    Dems should not give them an inch. You don’t get policy concessions for doing your damn job. Michael is right, Democrats need to bury these clowns to send a message that these tactics won’t be tolerated now and in the future.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Xenos: The bill did noit fail to achieve cloture, it was filibustered and killed by the GOP Senate acting as a near whole.

    Xenos, that is the definition of cloture.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Mind you it is not democratic, but then, the whole idea of cloture is anti democracy.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jr:

    Dems should not give them an inch.

    Just for the record… If the Repubs gave a mile, would you give a face saving inch?

  11. Rick Almeida says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I’m not JR, of course, but I’d say yes pretty much only if the inch were purely symbolic. This tactic has got to be killed.

  12. Tim D. says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It ain’t their mile to give.

  13. Jr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: If that mile is increased revenue then sure, since that is an actually policy concession.

  14. al-Ameda says:

    Gee, why do I think that no deal will result that will not require us to go through this Republican-directed idiocy in another 3 to 6 months?

  15. An Interested Party says:

    However, the out of hand rejection of the plan that Susan Collins had developed along with Joe Manchin and other Senators (including Kelly Ayotte and Lisa Murkowski) is particularly disheartening for anyone who was hoping for a quick and easy resolution of the crises gripping Washington.

    You appear to be confused…anyone hoping for a resolution to the mess in Washington shouldn’t like this deal, as it would allow Republicans to continue the mess in a few months…

  16. Smooth Jazz says:

    “This crisis is no longer the main point. The point is to kill this as a tactic. This Republican nonsense has got to stop, we cannot operate a government this way. The Republicans have to be beaten, be seen to be beaten, to feel beaten, to know deep down in their bones that this b.s.of theirs is over.”

    LOL, So your solution is what: Give Obama & Credit Card Authorization for another $2T (T stands for TRILLION), unfettered, so he can run the National Debt to $18TRILLION – More than double the $8 Trillion debt when he became President. From 2 Senators who voted AGAINST raising the debt ceiling in 2006 when Bush asked for it. LMAO. And you really think the country is fully behind giving another $2T blank check to Obama??? A perfectly reasonable proposal is presented by centrists Susan Collins & Joe Manchin to give everybody 2 – 3 months to cool off, and Obama’s response is he wants a blank check for another $1T – 2T with no strings. And you Liberals in your bubble think that is unreasonable??

    I think Liberals who think the citizens of this Country are willing to give an unpopular President (@42% JA According to Gallup and @37% JA according to AP) up to another $2T with no strings I have a bridge I can sell you at a discount. I think Liberals in these cocoons yelling KUMBAYA really need to get out more. Look at the bright side: Obama sychophants at NBC & CNN et al can always do another poll with 20% Gov’t workders to egg Obama on.

    Meanwhile, in the real world,Obama better hope his ObamaCare boondoggle gets AT LEAST a few thousand VERIFIABLE sign ups for this Clusterfark by mid Dec. Remember they need 7M people to sign up (non Medicaid) for this to have any chance and tens of millions to really thrive, given the massive infrastructure costs required for the Gov’t & insurers to keep this train wreck afloat. AND I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT BUGGY WEBSITES. I’M TALKING ABOUT CONFIRMED ENROLLMENTS WHERE THE BACK END INFRASTRUCTURE PROPERLY CAPTURES THE GOV’T SUBSIDY AND ACCURATELY CALCULATE PREMUIMS, CO PAYS AND DEDUCTIBLES. My understanding is that due to the unworkable website and problems with the back end integration touchpoints, maybe MAYBE a couple thousand have signed up. Rememeber millions have to be properly “enrolled” by mid Dec or the Reps will be the least of Obama’s worries.

    Yeah, before worrying about sending Repubs to the ether, you better worry that the ObamaCare train wreck works by Dec else it could be the Dems heading into oblivion if this trllion dollar clusterfark doesn’t start working within a month. AYUH!!!!

  17. al-Ameda says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Yeah, before worrying about sending Repubs to the ether, you better worry that the ObamaCare train wreck works by Dec else it could be the Dems heading into oblivion if this trllion dollar clusterfark doesn’t start working within a month. AYUH!!!!

    Yeah, 20% approval of this ongoing Republican-directed attempt to leverage their demands to rescind or defund ACA into a default on American debt securities is something to be proud of.

  18. Smooth Jazz says:

    “Yeah, 10% approval of this ongoing Republican-directed attempt to leverage their demands to rescind or defund ACA into a default on American debt securities is something to be proud of.”

    Spare me. Only a few sicko whack jobs are pushing an unreasonable proposition of not giving an inch and going over the cliff. The vast majority or Repubs are saying wait a minute: Before entrusting another $2T to an unpopular President, no strings attached, who is presiding over what may be the biggest boondoggle in history if they can’t get it starightened out in a month or two, let’s have a 2 – 4 month extension & cooling off period. That also gives everybody time to see whether the ObamaCare Clusterfark is workable and Dems & Reps can partner on recommendation to improve the situation if there are still MAJOR problems by early Jan.

    Reps are deeply unpopular because Dems hate them and many of their own are disenchanted with the party in general as the Tea Party & centrist elements remain at each others throats. It doesn’t mean that indivdual Reps are all the unpopular in their districts. If you think the current polls suggest Obama should get everything without any checks & balances, I think you are mistaken. Chuck Todd at Obama loving NBC may get tingles in his legs when pushing polls sympathetic to Liberal POV, but it doesn’t mean the country is totally behind OBama.

    Obama is heading into a dangerous period as his ObamaCare boondoggle implodes before our eyes. If he continues to reject reasonable proposals from Reps in the House & moderates in the Senate to have a few months cooling off period and reject any offers that doesn’t give him everything he wants, I think the public will catch up to him. Obama is unpopular and his heath care train wreck is as unpopular as he is. “IF YOU LIKE YOUR PLAN YOU CAN KEEP YOUR PLAN” is turning out to be a lie to milllions of American. And that is not even taking into account the web site doesn’t work and web site problems may limit enrollment to a little over a trickle by mid Dec.

    Obama better pray the ObamaCare web site problems are resolved or insurers looking at massive losses will bail on him by early Jan. He better accept any reasonable proposal and find a way to work with the other side. HE DOESN’T HOLD ALL THE CARDS NO MATTER WHAT YOU LIBERALS IN YOUR COCCOON THINK.

    JMHO.

  19. john personna says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Constitutional fail. Obama does not simply spend up to the debt limit, though this fallacy has been drilled into the Fox audience, I mean the GOP as gospel truth.

  20. rudderpedals says:

    @Smooth Jazz: Dude, by chance have you been listening to the un-smooth funky anxiety-inducing stuff? In times like these tunes with Sinatra and Billie Holiday (for instance) are doubleplusgood.

  21. Smooth Jazz says:

    @rudderpedals:

    “Dude, by chance have you been listening to the un-smooth funky anxiety-inducing stuff? In times like these tunes with Sinatra and Billie Holiday (for instance) are doubleplusgood.”

    As I’ve posted here before, I primarily like contemporary saxophinists Najee, Gerald Albright, Nelson Rangel, the recently departed Donald Byrd (primarily his 1970s work with the Mizell brothers) & Shawn “Thunder” Wallace; guitarists Norman Brown, Earl Klugh & George Benson; bassist “The late great” Wayman Tisdale, and keyboardists Bobby Lyle & Alex Bugnon. From the old school I like music from Dave “Take 5” Brubeck and John Coltrane (RIP to both these legends).

    I also have a soft spot for songstresses Natalie Cole, Nancy Wilson, Karrin Allyson, Diana Reeves and Jane Monheit. Not really into Sinatra or Billie. But I do like the music of Billie’s contemporaries that came a little later including Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington & Carmen MacRae.

  22. An Interested Party says:

    A perfectly reasonable ridiculous proposal is presented by “centrists” Susan Collins & Joe Manchin to give everybody 2 – 3 months to cool off the Republicans in the House a chance to practice extortion again in 2-3 months…

    Happy to be of help…

    Only a few sicko whack jobs are pushing an unreasonable proposition of not giving an inch and going over the cliff.

    Yeah, and those few sickos seem to have their hands tightly wrapped around John Boehner’s private parts…

    Reps are deeply unpopular because Dems hate them and many of their own are disenchanted with the party in general as the Tea Party & centrist elements remain at each others throats they’re trying to practice extortion and pretending that what they’re doing is “compromise”.

    Happy to be of help again…

    If he continues to reject reasonable proposals from Reps…

    BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Smooth Jazz continues to illustrate that he and reality are not very closely aligned…

  23. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @Smooth Jazz:
    Don’t you just hate it when people have to resort to SHOUTING.

  24. humanoid.panda says:

    I really think that people that have this on their permanent record, should avoid making predictions, especially about the future.

  25. jukeboxgrad says:

    I like this summary of the overall situation (link):

    It’s like some evil genius convinced the Congressional Republicans that they would get 72 virgins if they blew up their own party.

  26. Smooth Jazz says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    LOL, You really playing the 2012 “Unskewed Poll” card? LMAO. So Obama won the 2012 election. BFD. He barely squeaked by with a little over 50% over the vote in 2012. Anyway, what does the 2012 election have to do with the current predicament of his ObamaCare Clusterfark, which people had no clue would implode into a glitchy implementation mess.If voters knew in 2012 the bill of goods ObamaCare turned out to be, perhaps the 2012 election would have turned out differently. Now we know why they delayed ObamaCare past the 2012 election; This boondoggle is an unworkable mess.

    Right now he is an unpopular President with approval rating in the 30% range according to some polls and low 40% according to others. Polls during an election year mean nothing in a non Presidential election year when he is trying to implement his health care boondoggle that the country gets to experience first hand. As fast as you bring up 2012, I can point to 2010 when Obama was obliterated which enabled House districts to be redrawn in a way that repudiated him. He is a LONG way from the 50% that voted for him in 2012.

    Forget about 2012 that is ancient history – Presidents with 40% approval cannot refuse to negotiate and dictate the terms their way or the highway. And they certainly don’t get a $2T additional authoriization on the Credit Card without strings attached when they have an $8T health care clustefark that no one knows can even work. Here is a prediction you can take to the bank: If his ObamaCare boondoggle implodes completely by Jan either because the web site doesn’t work, or lack of signups due to sharply higher premiums, co pay & deductibles, Obama & the Dems will be eating some big time crow in 2014.

  27. jukeboxgrad says:

    He barely squeaked by with a little over 50% over the vote in 2012.

    As usual, you have a lot of trouble getting your facts straight. He got over 51%.

    By GOP standards, Obama’s 2012 win is a “mandate,” a “landslide,” and “a serious majority.” Link.

    This is a complete list of the presidents who have done better than 51% twice: Jackson, Grant, McKinley, FDR, Ike and Obama. Last time any Republican exceeded 51%: 25 years ago.

  28. fred says:

    Remember the govt shutdown came about because GOP wanted to defund and repeal the law of the land they call Obamacare. They don’t even speak about that now but now argue that the Pres and DEMs don’t want to negotiate. Negotiate about what. GOP congress must do its job and re-open the govt that they closed down and don’t even mention why anymore and raise the debt ceiling for the good of our country. Their racial hatred rampant in the GOP could have our country default for the first time in our history. Imagine that.

  29. al-Ameda says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Spare me. Only a few sicko whack jobs are pushing an unreasonable proposition of not giving an inch and going over the cliff. The vast majority or Repubs are saying wait a minute: Before entrusting another $2T to an unpopular President, no strings attached, who is presiding over what may be the biggest boondoggle in history if they can’t get it starightened out in a month or two, let’s have a 2 – 4 month extension & cooling off period. That also gives everybody time to see whether the ObamaCare Clusterfark is workable and Dems & Reps can partner on recommendation to improve the situation if there are still MAJOR problems by early Jan.

    Spare me. This is a ploy for Republicans to return us to the same degenerate Republcan-preferred point in 2 to 4 months. This is good for Ted Cruz and about 50 Republican legislators in DC, and not so good for about 315 million Americans.

  30. An Interested Party says:

    So Obama won the 2012 election. BFD. He barely squeaked by with a little over 50% over the vote in 2012.

    It is hardly surprising that you wouldn’t want to talk about the 2012 election, especially as before that election you were predicting that the president probably wouldn’t win reelection…do give us a good reason why we should take anything seriously that you write…