House To Pursue Its Own Shutdown/Debt Ceiling Bill, But That May Not Be Bad News [Update: Or, Maybe Not]

It looks like the House will be making its move before the Senate acts, but that may actually help resolve this faster.

United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. Aerial

As we wait for the Senate to act, or even announce that there’s a deal, the House GOP leadership has decided to pursue its own version of a final deal:

House Republican leaders on Tuesday will try to move their own bill to open the government, lift the debt ceiling and enact a host of health-care related policies that they hope the Senate will accept.

In a closed-party meeting Tuesday morning, House GOP leadership announced a plan to reopen the government until Jan. 15 and lift the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. The legislation would also delay Obamacare’s tax on medical devices for two years; cancel health-insurance subsidies for members of Congress, the president, vice president and the cabinet; and beef-up income verification requirements for Affordable Care Act subsidies.

This bill will likely have to pass with nearly all Republican votes.

The House plan comes as Senate leaders work to craft their own bipartisan plan. The two bills have similarities: The government-funding and debt ceiling expiration dates are the same, and both bills stiffen income verification requirements for individuals to receive Obamacare subsidies.

But the Senate bill creates a bicameral negotiating committee, while the House’s bill does not. The House plans to include a delay of the medical device tax and language to cancel Obamacare subsidies for politicians — both are missing from the Senate’s bill. The House’s bill — and not the Senate’s — stops Treasury from using extraordinary measures to prevent default. The Senate’s bill also cancels a tax on insurance plan, in a concession to unions – that is not in the House’s bill.

The House proposal immediately complicated the timeline in the Senate, where Republicans were supposed to hold a morning caucus for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to brief his members on the Senate plan. That was delayed until the afternoon in the wake of news from the lower chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) met with McConnell on Tuesday morning after the Senate opened. As he left the GOP leader’s office, Reid was asked if he had a reaction to the House’s plan to move a separate bill. Reid replied: “I will, but not right now.”

In opening the Senate on Tuesday morning, Reid continued to sound optimism about the Senate’s own discussions.

“There are productive negotiations going on with the Republican leader. I’m confident we will be able to reach a comprehensive agreement this week,” Reid said ahead of Tuesday’s party caucus meetings.

Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team had no choice but to move their own bill, aides say. The opposition to the Senate’s bill was stiff. In the House Republican conference meeting Tuesday, leadership put up a slide that read “Senate Jam.” At the beginning of the meeting, Republicans sang “Amazing Grace,” according to sources present.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), seen by many as the most respected policy mind in the party, rejected what should have been the most appealing portion Senate’s plan Tuesday morning. Asked about the budget conference committee that the Senate bill sets up, Ryan said, “I think you need to do more than that — a budget resolution isn’t enough to solve the problem.”

On its face, this may sound like bad news because it seems to divert from the Senate bill in several important respects and, of course, tosses the entire issue of elements of the Affordable Care Act back into the mix. While one of those elements concerning the medical device tax would seem to have bipartisan support in the Senate, reports out of that body indicate that it had been removed from the final deal that Reid and McConnell will take to their members later today because it was believed to too difficult to get through the Senate. The other portions of what seems likely to become the House bill would also seem to have difficulties making it through the Senate. At the same time, though, its worth noting that this proposal does largely accept the framework of what we know about the Senate plan, most specifically those concerning the extension of government funding and the debt ceiling. This potentially means that we’re looking at the final stages of a resolution rather than a true setback.

It’s not too hard to see how this could play out and still lead to resolution within the next 48 hours. It could start out tonight with the House passing its version of a final deal, something that can easily happen in that body but would be far less likely in the Senate given their procedural rules. At that point, the bill goes to the Senate where Reid, utilizing some of the new procedures designed to avert filibusters I wrote about this morning, strips out the offending language from the House bill and replaces it with the deal he worked out with McConnell. That bill then goes back to the House where Boehner, faced with an impending deadline and no other options, can make a plausible case to his caucus that they’ve tried everything they could and its time to do what needs to be done. Yes, there will be some portion of the GOP caucus that will vote “No” in any case, but there should be more than enough Republican votes in favor, along with the Democrats, to allow the bill to pass easily. It would require some long nights in both chambers of Congress today and tomorrow, but it could theoretically all be done before the day ends on Wednesday, or at the very latest by sometime early on Thursday.

Update: The House plan appears to be following apart.

That’s quite obviously the optimistic view of how things are going, but it seems entirely plausible. Whether reality plays out in this manner remains to be seen.

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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Peacewood says:

    For some reason, the Jaws theme keeps running through my head.

  2. john personna says:

    In a closed-party meeting Tuesday morning, House GOP leadership announced a plan to reopen the government until Jan. 15 and lift the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. The legislation would also delay Obamacare’s tax on medical devices for two years; cancel health-insurance subsidies for members of Congress, the president, vice president and the cabinet; and beef-up income verification requirements for Affordable Care Act subsidies.

    That is a slightly different list than the one I mentioned in the other thread, adding additional income verification, but still it looks like a pile of nothing to me.

    Let’s hope it is enough of a fig leaf, enough of a charade, though for the House to pass.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    That’s quite obviously the optimistic view of how things are going, but it seems entirely plausible. Whether reality plays out in this manner remains to be seen.

    I’m not nearly as optimistic. As the country is about to burn down we have the Republicans fighting each other, the Democrats fighting the Republicans and the House fighting the Senate.
    Roger Simon had the best quote yesterday:

    Question: If Ted Cruz and John Boehner were both on a sinking ship, who would be saved?

    Answer: America.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    I’m still not clear on how you throw Government Employees off their insurance, and not compensate them for it as an offset. That’s a huge slash to their (or anyones) compensation package.
    If my firm said they were no longer going to provide me with insurance…and did not increase my compensation to offset that change…I would leave the firm. Period.
    It may simply be that Ted Cruz and John Boehner and Paul Ryan…having spent their entire careers sucking on the Government tit…don’t understand how this works. Other wise it defies explanation.

  5. john personna says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Did you miss the change? It isn’t staff anymore:

    cancel health-insurance subsidies for members of Congress, the president, vice president and the cabinet;

    They are just canceling subsidies for rich guys.

  6. beth says:

    @john personna: Robert Costa of NRO is now tweeting that they’re probably going to add back the full Vitter amendment. I wouldn’t drink any coffee handed to me by a staffer if I was a Congressman.

  7. al-Ameda says:

    Wow, John Boehner really has a handle on his caucus. He is the weakest Speaker of the past 30 years – he’s afraid to lose his job, he, like most non-Tea Party Republicans, is just along for the ride like everyone else.

    That old joke about lawyers seems to apply here:

    Q: What do you call Ted Cruz, Eric Cantor and John Boehner chained to an oil drum on the ocean floor?
    A: A good start.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @ JP…yes I caught it…
    Given that these Congress-Peoples make $175K minimum…the amount they get from their employer is probably significant.
    My firms contribution amounts to about 8% of my compensation. 8% of $175K is $14K +/-. Is Boehner really going to take a $14K haircut?
    And more importantly…why? And it’s the why that I don’t get. Of course these are people with Tea Bags dangling from their hats…so there is probably no reasonable explanation.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And more importantly…why? And it’s the why that I don’t get. Of course these are people with Tea Bags dangling from their hats…so there is probably no reasonable explanation.

    The “why” is obvious: They’re trying to ‘spike’ ACA and create more opposition.

    ACA was not intended to require those already covered by their existing health insurance to go out and purchase coverage at an ACA Exchange, it was intended for those without coverage. Republicans lie and mislead the public concerning ACA constantly.

  10. john personna says:

    @C. Clavin:

    These guys make $50K for speaking at one dinner, so yes, it is window dressing.

  11. john personna says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Maybe I should let you guys squawk, and let that please the Republicans .. but what are we talking about?

    “members of Congress, the president, vice president and the cabinet” are maybe a few hundred people.

    There are a few hundred million people in the US. The “spike” you mention is on 1/1,000,000th of the population.

    Eyes. Ball.

  12. Todd says:

    Flipping through channels and landing on Fox News this morning, the reporting was that Conservatives really, really, really want to get a “win” .. direct quote: “some skin they can hang on their wall”.

    Back to my toddler analogy …

    This is the slightly older toddler (who’s learned the value of a temper tantrum) and knows that mommy has an important phone call to take in a few minutes, so if he throws a fit now, it’s very likely he’s gonna get a cookie … because mom really can’t afford to let him keep screaming any longer.

  13. john personna says:

    @Todd:

    As I say in the other thread … “Don’t let your side get as sloppy as the other, in some frenzy that the least fig-leaf is ‘surrender’ for your side.”

  14. Tony W says:

    They keep letting the Republicans behave like Sheldon on Big Bang Theory….

  15. al-Ameda says:

    @john personna: +

    There are a few hundred million people in the US. The “spike” you mention is on 1/1,000,000th of the population.

    John I’m very well aware of that, however, this is a relentlessly stupid and unnecessary action on the part of Republicans – I know, I know, what else is new?

  16. john personna says:

    @al-Ameda:

    If the Costa tweek Beth mentions proves true, I’d be more concerned.

    Dumping on staff would be pretty cruel and unnecessary.

  17. LaMont says:

    That bill then goes back to the House where Boehner, faced with an impending deadline and no other options, can make a plausible case to his caucus that they’ve tried everything they could and its time to do what needs to be done

    In other words – Boehner has approximately 48 hrs to clean out his office!

  18. john personna says:

    Ezra Klein reads it pretty much as I do:

    The House GOP’s shutdown deal is a big improvement

  19. grumpy realist says:

    It looks like the House Republicans can’t even decide on their own plan.

    So Boehner is left with two alternatives: keep the Hastert rule, allow the US to slip into default, and go down in history as the biggest wimp since Mr. “Peace in our time.” Or buck the Hastert rule, bring the Senate agreement to the floor, get it passed, and tell the Tea Partiers to jump into a lake. Boehner’s got to yank his balls out from the teeth of the Tea Partiers at some point, one would think.

    I’d rather be a dead lion than a live mouse whose name will live in infamy, but that’s just me.

  20. al-Ameda says:

    @john personna:

    From Klein’s piece: It forms a bicameral budget committee that needs to report back by Dec. 13.

    This brings to mind the last great opportunity to deal with these issues on a bi-partisan somewhat independent basis – and Paul Ryan declined to support the recommendations.

    But really, this is it. They have to end the possibility of default ASAP. Unfortunately Republicans hold the cards here and they’re quite willing to go through this sequence of events again and again. And so we’ll repeat this in short order.

  21. Rob in CT says:

    They are just canceling subsidies for rich guys

    Wait… if they’re rich (and they are), there wouldn’t be subsidies for them anyway. WTF?

    edit: oh, wait, I see. It’s not subsidies, it’s the employer contribution. That would like drop their total comp by, like Cliff says, about 8% or so, depending on the details.

    Meanwhile, apparently the GOPers in the House can’t get it together.

  22. anjin-san says:

    House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), seen by many as the most respected policy mind in the party,

    No wonder we are in trouble.

  23. john personna says:

    @al-Ameda:

    It will be interesting either way. If Boehner has to suspend the Hastert Rule that means that the Teas are suppressed by GOP hierarchy. If the Teas want to avoid that, they have to sign on to the Boehner solution, reducing their own ideological purity.

    Either way it will be the Teas owning the defeat they’ve brought on the GOP.

  24. Rob in CT says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Every time people try to put together a “Grand Bargain” proposal that actually adds up, the GOP balks. This time will be no different.

  25. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I think the theory is that we pay the rich guys enough that they don’t try to get ALL their income by the hand behind their back.

  26. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Right but what I looked for carefully was any kind of penalty clause (ie sequester) on ignoring this new committee. If there is none, it is pure can-kick.

  27. john personna says:

    Funny isn’t, it?

    This is the most important issue in the country, but since it isn’t about parks or monuments .. no trolls speak up.

  28. Todd says:

    @john personna:

    Right but what I looked for carefully was any kind of penalty clause (ie sequester) on ignoring this new committee. If there is none, it is pure can-kick.

    Isn’t it essentially “built in”? This CR would end right as the additional 2014 sequester cuts are due to kick in. In a way, this is kind of a do-over of the super committee (they need a deal to avoid sequester). Not that that inspires a terrible amount of confidence that they might get something done.

  29. Scott says:

    At the beginning of the meeting, Republicans sang “Amazing Grace

    I wonder if Eric Cantor sang also.

  30. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    In the abstract, I really don’t have a problem with someone arguing that Congresscritters are paid too much. Therefore, if they lose their employer-provided health insurance, I will not cry about it.

    The “theory” is not that we pay congresscritters enough that they can take a hit. The “theory” is that the PPACA is this horrible thing to which we will now subject our congresscritters as punishment/education. It’s f*cking asinine.

    But whatever.

  31. john personna says:

    @Todd:

    I meant no additional penalty. Yes, the can-kick is on the current status quo, including the current sequester.

  32. Rob in CT says:

    Well, despite the 11th-hour nature of all of this, the market has yet to freak out. It’s down a pittance today. More to the point, it’s down, what, 1% or so in the past month. Actually, hell, that’s the DOW. If you look at the S&P, it’s actually up about 1% in the same timeframe.

    Therefore, ergo, while you and I may find this all very worrisome, investors don’t think it’s real. I guess I should include myself, as I haven’t changed my investments based on this (though I do have some cash on the sidelines ready to go in if the market does drop… or frankly even if it doesn’t, but I am waiting a bit).

  33. DrDaveT says:

    “Senate Jam”, eh? Not a bad idea, but it would be awfully bitter. I’m not sure there’s enough pectin in Washington to make it hold together, either.

  34. Todd says:

    @john personna:

    I meant no additional penalty. Yes, the can-kick is on the current status quo, including the current sequester.

    It’s not just a continuation of the current cuts. There are ADDITIONAL cuts due to take place in January. As bad as this year’s sequester was, after January 2014 it would be even worse.

  35. Rob in CT says:

    Regarding investors not reacting yet, perhaps this is why:

    although the Treasury Department hasn’t officially modified its October 17 estimate of doomsday, it seems almost certain that it’s no longer the most likely date that we run out of money to pay our bills. The shutdown doesn’t stop a ton of spending, but it does stop some spending, and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s most recent analysis of cash flow suggests that money will run dry sometime between October 22 and November 1.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    At the beginning of the meeting, Republicans sang “Amazing Grace”

    Anything short of mass suicide is not an amazing grace.

  37. john personna says:

    @Todd:

    Is that true? FY2014 starts in October.

    A Guide to the 2014 Sequester

    I admit to only skimming that, but I couldn’t find a January 1, 2014 action.

  38. Todd says:

    @john personna: It’s near the end of the page …

    Any sequester of discretionary funds, however, wouldn’t begin until 15 days after Congress adjourns (most likely meaning January), setting up another potential period of substantial uncertainty for federal agencies, grant recipients, and the broader economy.****

  39. Todd says:

    There’s a chart near the beginning of this post that shows the additional cuts in each of the next 8 years: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/20/the-sequester-absolutely-everything-you-could-possibly-need-to-know-in-one-faq/

  40. al-Ameda says:

    @Scott:

    At the beginning of the meeting, Republicans sang “Amazing Grace

    Leni Riefenstahl would have been a great choice to the photo-op, “Triumph of The Null.”