Republicans Ready Their Next Offer On Shutdown, Debt Ceiling

The outlines of a possible new GOP proposal are emerging. Can it go anywhere?

Capitol Building Dusk

National Review’s Robert Costa outlines what is likely to be the next big proposal from House Republicans to resolve the government shutdown and the imminent breaching of the debt ceiling:

It hasn’t been announced, and you won’t hear about it today, but the final volley of the fiscal impasse, at least for House Republicans, is already being brokered. And according to my top sources — both members and senior aides — it won’t end with a clean CR, or with a sprawling, 2011-style budget agreement. It’ll end with an offer — a relatively modest mid-October offer that concurrently connects a debt-limit extension, government funding, and a small, but strategically designed menu of conservative demands.


[D]etails are floating to the surface as the leadership reaches out to internal power brokers about what’s within the realm of the possible. What I’m hearing: There will be a “mechanism” for revenue-neutral tax reform, ushered by Ryan and Michigan’s Dave Camp, that will encourage deeper congressional talks in the coming year. There will be entitlement-reform proposals, most likely chained CPI and means testing Medicare; there will also be some health-care provisions, such as a repeal of the medical-device tax, which has bipartisan support in both chambers. Boehner, sources say, is expected to go as far as he can with his offer. Anything too small will earn conservative ire; anything too big will turn off Democrats.

Another tidbit: One House Republican familiar with the talks says parts of sequestration may be something Republicans will discuss, should Democrats inch toward them on taxes or health care. For example, if Democrats start to talk about chained CPI, Republicans may budge a little on sequestration and look at trading some entitlement reform for renewed funding. Senate budget chairman Patty Murray and Ryan have been having related talks for months, and they’re poised to guide the negotiations, should they pick up speed. House leadership, per several sources, seems open to such trades.


House leaders are also looking at how to include some energy demands, such as the Keystone pipeline, but tax reform and entitlements are looking to be the core of the offer, and the medical-device tax is seen as the rare health-care demand that’s viable as part of a deal.

So we’ve gone from defunding Obamacare, to delaying it for a year, to delaying only the individual mandate, all of which were rejected by the Senate and subject to veto threats by the President, to a proposal that focuses more on spending and revenue issues than the PPACA. The lone sop to the Cruz wing of the GOP on that issue would be the repeal of the Medical Device Tax, a relatively minor part of the law that has been criticized universally by Republicans and Democrats. When the Senate took what was essentially just an advisory vote on the issue earlier this year, 79 Senators voted in favor of the idea of repealing it. Theoretically, then, if one portion of the President’s health care law was going to be sacrificed, this would seem to be the easiest one to get rid of as part of a broader deal.

As for the other provisions, the devil is obviously in the details and it’s likely that Republicans wouldn’t get everything that they want in negotiations. For example Chained CPI is one that has proven to be a hard pill for Democrats to swallow in previous negotiations so it’s not clear how far that one will go. Additionally, while the Keystone XL pipeline does have bipartisan support, it’s likely to be subject to the same complaints about being unrelated to the underlying bill that the attacks on Obamacare faced last week. Other ideas, though, like means testing Medicare and some kind of commission for the consideration of tax reform would seem to be more likely to survive. The question will be whether Democrats will be willing to talk about these matters and whether Boehner can convince the hard line segment of his own caucus to accept this kind of package in lieu of their ideal package that goes full bore against the Affordable Care Act. One House Republican told Costa that a bill that doesn’t include a delay of the PPACA’s individual mandate is likely to get “No” votes from 30-50 Republican Members of Congress, meaning that Boehner would need to make up the difference from among Democratic Members.

Of course, as Jazz Shaw notes, that leaves one thing open for question. Namely, will there be anyone for House Republicans to present their ideas to:

[T]he keystone of this entire plan seems to rely on something which is none too certain. Up until this point, Obama has drawn a red line in the sand over any negotiating or agreeing to any partial funding bills, insisting that it’s going to be all or nothing and no deals will be made. Getting the Democrats to the table on this sort of thing would require the President completely retreating from that very publicly stated red line and agreeing to a totally different…

As I’ve noted before, polling to date shows strong support among the public for the idea of both sides sitting down, negotiating, and compromising. Given that, I’m skeptical about how long President Obama and the Democrats can sustain this particular “red line,” especially as we get closer and closer to the drop dead date on the debt ceiling. Additionally, note that Costa speaks of talks between Paul Ryan and Patty Murray in the past. It may not be the case that these talks have continued during the shutdown crisis, but there’s no reason why they couldn’t resume. In other words, there may be a way for a deal to be made that allows the President to save face on his “no negotiations” strategy since he wouldn’t be participating in them. And, in the end, if the House and Senate bang out a deal that gets the government back to work and raises the debt ceiling, does anyone really think the President wouldn’t sign it? I sure don’t.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Healthcare Policy, Taxes, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    All it would take is not linking/defunding ACA for this thing to break open. Let’s see if Republicans have the courage (or the sanity) to take elimination of ACA off the table. The reality is, in this sordid situation, Republicans deserve nothing.

  2. Todd says:

    And, in the end, if the House and Senate bang out a deal that gets the government back to work and raises the debt ceiling, does anyone really think the President wouldn’t sign it? I sure don’t.

    I don’t think you’ll see such a deal.

    As you linked to above, without PPACA defunding, you lose 30-50 Republicans no matter what. Those votes will have to be replaced with Democrats. The more Conservative “goodies” that are added to any deal, the harder it will be to attract those needed Democrats.

    As has been pointed out numerous times, just passing a “clean” CR at sequestration level funding is already a huge compromise from Democrats.

    I’m not a hard core liberal, and I really have no interest one way or another in the Democrats “winning”. My concern is that for the sake of our democracy this ridiculous hostage taking has to stop. If the Republicans get any concessions as a result of this stunt, it will not be the end of this type of crisis. They’ll just do it again, and again and again.

    I hate to make silly analogies, but it’s parenting 101. Give in to your toddler, and the future fits will only get worse.

  3. Ben Wolf says:

    There is no need for the President to negotiate at all. He has all the tools he requires to ensure the debt ceiling is never an issue again, and he should use them. But he won’t.

  4. Gustopher says:

    So, the Republicans would like structural changes in exchange for a continuing resolution? I hope that doesn’t happen. I really hope the Democrats stand their ground here.

    A lot of this is just irrelevant — a process for tax reform, for instance. Sure, congress can discuss tax reform, set up whatever commissions it wants, but why is that linked to a continuing resolution? Sure, whatever.

    Chained CPI, though? Cutting benefits on seniors when the things seniors need to spend money on are rising faster than the rate of inflation? Why should that be traded for a continuing resolution of maybe one year?

  5. Jeremy R says:


    But at the Capitol, behind the four doors and the three receptionists and the police guard, McConnell said he could imagine doing this again.

    “I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting,” he said. “Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming.”

  6. David M says:

    All those seem like they are more appropriately discussed after passing a clean CR and raising the debt ceiling. Seems like that’s the least the GOP could do to show they want to negotiate in good faith and stop the extortion attempts.

  7. rudderpedals says:

    Thanks Costa for spilling the beans. He’s been great to follow (got me to accidentally bookmark The Corner). This means the next two weeks are pretty much going to be the House squeezing out rabbit pellets while the clock runs down, at which point the question is does the House pull the trigger?

    Go on and get it over with then.

  8. wr says:

    And here is Obama and Reid’s response, which will come as a surprise to absolutely no one who’s been paying attention:

    Pass a clean CR and raise the debt ceiling.

    After that, we can negotiate anything you want.

  9. humanoid.panda says:

    This will not go nowhere, should not go nowhere, and it will be a great crime for Reid, Obama, and Pelosi to even start negotiating over this package, for a simple reason: if the GOP gets all this in exchange for a debt ceiling raise this year, what will happen next year, or the year after that? They must, and I hope they will, throw it in Boehner’s face.
    Now, after the republicans raise the debt ceiling, is this a reasonable position to start negotiations over the budget or even ending the shutdown? Perhaps, until one notes that there is not a single republican concession in that list. In fact, it seems that Boehner had reduced the concept of the Grand Bargain to something that he , Ryan and the crazy fringe can pass in the house, kinda forgetting there is another side to negotiate with. This is not quite how bargaining, grand or not, works.

  10. ratufa says:

    This is what the non-crazy Republicans (i.e. those Republicans who understood from the start that defunding Obamacare was never going to happen given the current Senate & President) were aiming for from the start — being able to negotiate a budget with both a government shutdown and the debt ceiling extension as leverage. The main targets that Republicans would like to go after are the big entitlements — outside of defense, that’s where most of the money goes (and will increasingly go as the population ages). Also, since any major entitlement reform is going to be unpopular with many voters, Republicans know that having the Democrats involved in passing such reform will help shield them from getting all the blame.

  11. David M says:

    The GOP shut down the government because they lost an election and are not in charge. Why aren’t they expected to be the ones making concessions after their temper tantrum?

    Seems to be an awful precedent to set, that shutting down the government is an acceptable outcome to losing an electon. That’s really what’s going on.

  12. al-Ameda says:

    Some day, hopefully not in the near future, a Republican will occupy the White House, and I wonder if what Republicans are doing now will be the model for opposition party politics? Will Democrats be inclined to act as “principled” as Republicans are now and obstruct everything that a Republican president wants to do?

    Probably not, because it would be wrong.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Doug, at what point do you get around to asking what is it the GOP offers to give the Dems???

    You keep saying they have to negotiate,… by the Dems capitulating.

    This is sadder than sad, this is slit your wrists sad.

    (shakes head) Doug? You can say as much as you want that you are not a Republican, but your true colors are showing through.

  14. Jeremy R says:

    Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.):

    “You’re seeing the tremor before the tsunami here,” Yoho said. “I’m not going to raise the debt ceiling.

    “I think we need to have that moment where we realize [we’re] going broke,” Yoho said. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, that will sure as heck be a moment. “I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets,” since they would be assured that the United States had moved decisively to curb its debt.

  15. humanoid.panda says:

    @Jeremy R: Well, this will stabilize markets, in same sense as shooting someone in the head will relieve headaches…

  16. steve s says:

    The question, as I see it, is will the Stupid Hate Machine (née GOP) ruin the country before becoming politically irrelevant?

  17. Kari Q says:

    Keeping the government functioning, and avoiding a default on the debt, is simply part of the job of being a Congressman. The GOP is refusing to do their job unless they are given cookies. If the Democrats give them cookies, then they’ll demand ponies. If the Dems give them ponies, they’ll demand unicorns. There’s nothing to negotiate here. The House needs to do it’s job. Full stop.

    Any negotiations will come after they have done their job.

  18. al-Ameda says:

    @Jeremy R:

    Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.):
    “I think we need to have that moment where we realize [we’re] going broke,” Yoho said. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, that will sure as heck be a moment. “I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets,” since they would be assured that the United States had moved decisively to curb its debt.

    Yes, nothing reassures world financial markets like the United States defaulting on its bonds.
    These are the morons attempting to take over our government.

  19. Woody says:

    So, if I understand the piece:

    Republicans will temporarily fund the government’s bills that Republicans are partially responsible for spending.

    In return, Democrats will agree to a Christmas-tree wishlist of Republican demands, only many of them will not directly doom the ACA. In addition, Republicans totes promise they’ll negotiate a big agreement somewhere down the road.

    Because Americans think Both Parties Are At Fault Equally.

    When do Harold Ford and Cokie weigh in?

  20. An Interested Party says:

    @Woody: This perfectly explains the problem with this post…when Doug presents posts like this one, he seems to be as clueless as those Americans you talk about who think that both parties are always equally at fault…

  21. Moosebreath says:

    CNN is reporting a proposal far more like what wr said above:

    “One idea being considered to end the immediate fiscal impasse is a bill to fund the government and extend the nation’s borrowing authority for six weeks, a senior Republican member of the House told CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

    The congressman agreed to speak with CNN on the condition of anonymity.

    The GOP lawmaker said a committee could then be set up to negotiate the fiscal issues dividing the two parties and negotiate a plan to keep the government funded for the rest of the year without the proverbial gun to their heads.”

    This seems at least feasible, and should get most Democrats in favor of it. Whether enough Republicans can accept this is the question.

  22. al-Ameda says:


    “One idea being considered to end the immediate fiscal impasse is a bill to fund the government and extend the nation’s borrowing authority for six weeks, a senior Republican member of the House told CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

    Great, we get to go through this again in 6 weeks! No deal, we’d get the same crap-on-a-stick right around Christmas and New Year.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    So while John Boehner sweats onto his tanning bed and weeps for his own shattered reputation, Barack Obama and his national security team are knocking off some major terrorist targets, relying on intelligence analysts the Republicans refuse to pay.

  24. Jeremy R says:


    The Senate clean CR was the same relatively brief six weeks. I imagine the dems would go for what’s being outlined there as long as there were no concessions, besides the funding level, attached.

  25. mike shupp says:

    Here’s a counter-proposal: Let’s auction off Texas.

    Put it up on Kickstarter — “One state for sale, $1 Trillion dollars, all federal facilities intact; Social Security, education funding, healthcare not included. A free Congressman for the first 36 multimillion dollar contributions, a Senator for the f9irst 2 billion dollar donors.”

    We stand to lose, as noted, about three dozen Congressmen (one of them Ted Cruz, who is easily worth a dozen ordinary Senators), and a couple baseball teams. US population will fall about 24 million people, which will probably be made up fairly quickly. On the positive side, without 24 Republican Representatives and 2 Senators, Congress will function more smoothly. The USA will be able to pay its bills for a while, including Obamacare and the Social Security deficiits which so excite the Washington Post and the Peterson Commission, and make a cut in the overall Federal deficit. Without Texans, we’ll also save about 8% of our SS and Medicare and Medicaid and Educational Department spending — around $200 billion per year. And since we’ll no longer be defending Texas from invasion or foreign conflict, DoD cuts ought to be comparable — maybe 55 to 60 billion dollars per year (and considering Texans’ roles in our past half century.of wars, the savings could be CONSIDERABLY HIGHER!).

    Also, we’ll have a place to point to for Randites seeking refuge from truth-in-lending laws, clear air regulation, equal rights legislation, fuel mileage standards and other evils — an above-ground place, accessible by ordinary means of transportation. This should do much to improve sanity and civility among the remaining American population.

    Really. this strikes me as ideal. Of course it may turn, as political things often do, that the proponents of Liberation For the Lone Star Republic are more eager to support their cause with their oratory rather than cash. In that case, I suggest we move the offer to eBay. “One state, highest offer wins/” Surely a couple of Mexican drug cartels would be interested in bidding. And there’s always China.

    Next week – Bankers.

  26. Scott O says:

    @mike shupp:
    Plus as folks leave the USA to move to the new country of Texas our IQ average will increase.

  27. anjin-san says:

    Interesting story about some vets who are being f**ked over by the shutdown:

  28. Rick Almeida says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Doug is far from clueless – he very diligently presses an agenda.

  29. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Defending the country will matter little to wingnuts like Jenos and JKB who have found their true horror … closed parks.

  30. Rafer Janders says:

    @An Interested Party:

    when Doug presents posts like this one, he seems to be as clueless as those Americans you talk about who think that both parties are always equally at fault…

    Look, give Doug a break. Sure he’s clueless about all this. But it’s not like he’s a professional pundit whose role it is to offer in-depth, reasoned and informed political analysis of the Washingt…hey, wait a minute.

  31. john personna says:

    I think Doug and James have a bit of mood affiliation.

    They can document right wing madness but they will _feel_ that the left is wrong too.

    So both sides do it.

  32. Rafer Janders says:

    @john personna:

    Quite right. They can’t quite document or explain how the left is wrong, but they can feel it in their guts, and that’s what’s really important, isn’t it?

  33. anjin-san says:

    @ Rafer Janders

    they can feel it in their guts, and that’s what’s really important, isn’t it?

    It’s ironic how much modern conservatives and their enablers resemble 1970’s Democrats, complete with feelings driven policy and the romanticizing of each glorious defeat.