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February 7, 2016

House GOP Eyes Pre-Emptive Move to Counter Senate Debt Deal (Updated)

Updated 11:53 a.m. | House GOP leaders outlined a new plan Tuesday morning to reopen the government and avoid a default on the debt — but it was immediately rejected by the Democratic leaders and the White House for including a “ransom” that President Barack Obama would not accept — and leaders themselves pulled back after meeting with their conference.

“There have been no decisions about what exactly we will do,” said Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, after a nearly two-hour-long conference meeting Tuesday morning. “We’re working with our members to find a way forward.”

Boehner and his top lieutenants — Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington — all vaguely reiterated their commitment to provide “fairness” for the American people under the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

Boehner could not promise there would be a vote tonight on the House proposal that leaders had outlined at the meeting.

That measure would build off the emerging Senate deal, which would fund the government until Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, according to lawmakers and aides.

It would not include either a delay of the individual mandate or other major attempts to dismantle or undermine the Obamacare law. But the measure would suspend the Obamacare medical device tax for two years and eliminate health care benefits for lawmakers and Cabinet officials — but not congressional staff. Those are relatively small items, however. The 2 percent medical device tax raises about $2.5 billion a year.

The bill would also nix a Senate provision sought by unions eliminating an Obamacare fee on reinsuring health plans.

The House plan would also have a provision requiring income verification for Obamacare subsidies, which the Senate plan also envisioned.

Though House GOP leaders seemed to signal on Monday that they would reluctantly bring up a tentative Senate-crafted deal, a subsequent revolt by conservatives in the House apparently made leaders rethink that strategy. Indeed, tea party darling Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and 15 to 20 House GOP lawmakers met privately Monday night at a Capitol Hill restaurant to plot their strategy.

It’s still not clear whether the latest GOP leadership effort can pass muster with their flock.

And it was immediately rejected by the White House and Democratic leaders.

“The President has said repeatedly that Members of Congress don’t get to demand ransom for fulfilling their basic responsibilities to pass a budget and pay the nation’s bills,” said Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman. “Unfortunately, the latest proposal from House Republicans does just that in a partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the latest effort was “sabotaging good-faith, bipartisan effort” in the Senate, and predicted it could not pass the House.

“What you saw here earlier was the speaker who does not have the votes for this proposal,” she said.

Even if it did, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor it wasn’t going anywhere in the Senate, either.

Leaving the meeting, Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., said that members in the conference had “sincere, deep thoughts of concern” about it.

But Rep. Darrell Issa said the proposal was “similar to the Senate compromise … but more on point.” The California Republican said GOP conference members feel good about the plan.

Moderate Rep. Charlie Dent appeared disappointed that House Republicans were again planning to try to push something that was unlikely to pass the Senate. “Nobody comes out of this a winner. Everybody comes out losers. Just a matter of who loses more,” the Pennsylvania Republican said.

Brundage, meanwhile, pointed to the emerging, bipartisan Senate deal for hope.

“Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have been working in a bipartisan, good-faith effort to end the manufactured crises that have already harmed American families and business owners,” she said. “With only a couple days remaining until the United States exhausts its borrowing authority, it’s time for the House to do the same.”

Emma Dumain and Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

  • pmorton

    DOA, if it arrives at all.

  • Chief Wack-A-Troll

    the GOP House, the definition of insanity.

    • Layla

      For the FIRST TIME EVER, the GOP seem to be listening to the cries of their Constituents. The thievery must stop.

  • Freedomswatch

    The House is an elected body just like the Senate. They have every right to put forward their own bill. Members of Congress should have to live by the same provisions of Obamacare as every other American. There is nothing insane about that.

  • susierosie

    The house has no choice but to pass the senate bill. If they don’t the GOP party will lose in 2014, the country will default and the world will crumble, buy hey the so called moderates in the GOP will not get primaried. HOORAY!

    • Layla

      No deals. Stop stealing from the American people. Learn to live within our means. The rest of us have.

  • fredb

    The extremist Obama with his anti-American and anti-capitalist views is making every attempt to destroy the American economy by forcing the government to default on its debt. He has no interest in dealing with the adults in the house of representatives who are trying to save the country from following formerly great countries down the path to bankruptcy because he thinks another recession and market crash will help him in his goals of marching the country toward communism.

  • godblessusa

    Dear House Republicans,

    Although your world is a single gerrymandered congressional district, the actual world is much larger. Please factor that into your deliberations.


    The American people

    • Jefferson_Was_Right

      The House is doing exactly what they were voted in to do. Too bad about that constitution, and its pesky limitations on one branch of government having too much power, huh?

      • sandbun

        Having the right to do something doesn’t mean you should do it or that you won’t be responsible for the bad things that happen when you act irresponsibly. Plus the majority of the House would pass the Senate bill, or even a clean CR. It’s a minority in the House that prevents a vote from even happening. That’s not democracy.

        • Jefferson_Was_Right

          Sure, and the Senate would pass the clean CR bills the House has already passed — you are accusing the House of doing precisely what the Senate has been doing since 2011, except it’s Reid instead of Boehner doing it.

          • sandbun

            What bills passed the House that would’ve passed the Senate and gotten Obama’s signature has the Senate refused to vote on?

          • Jefferson_Was_Right

            What Obama does with his veto power is Obama’s business. All Reid had to do was bring the many, MANY bills that have passed the House to the floor over the past 2.5 years. He refuses to do so, as political cover for his party and for the president.

            In any case, there have been, what, 10 CRs passed by the House that fund government with no preconditions? The Senate (well, Reid) refuses to take them up. Who’s the terrorist now?

          • sandbun

            So you don’t actually have any examples of bills that if Reid allowed votes on would become law. So actually it’s not the same thing at all.

            Those were bills that only certain politically popular groups, not actually reopened the government. If those were passed, the House would just never get around to funding anything else, giving the House a random pocket veto over anything they didn’t like, which is far from what the Founders intended. And those wouldn’t have gotten signed by Obama anyhow, so again, not at all the same thing.

        • Layla

          Neither is a President who doesn’t pass regular budget. That should be grounds for impeachment. NOBODY on Capitol Hill should be paid until the budget is BALANCED.

      • godblessusa

        No single entity of government, particularly 1/2 of 1/3, can impose its will without consent from other entities. What the hell country do you think this is?

        Would a Republican president be okay with a Democratic House extorting what it failed to win at the ballot box?

        • Jefferson_Was_Right

          Conversely, no single branch of government can unilaterally impose its will on the rest of the government. Which is precisely what Obama intends when he proclaims he will not negotiate. How is it that when Reid and Obama use their constitutional authority, it’s fine, but when the GOP doe that exact thing, it’s not?

          The only difference, of course, is that it’s your guy in one case and not the other. The House has used the power of the purse throughout its history. It is not new for it to do so. To proclaim otherwise is to be ignorant, or a liar. Which are you?

          • godblessusa

            Funding the government and paying the bills are not concessions. Extortion is not negotiating.

            Republicans are fooling no one.

          • Jefferson_Was_Right

            Actually, it is. As the Democrats amply demonstrated during Reagan’s presidency. Again — are you ignorant, or merely lying?

          • godblessusa

            Get out of the bubble once in a while. Take a walk. Get some air.

          • Layla

            Yes, move out here to the REAL AMERICA where you have stolen, and stolen, and stolen from the American people….where small business is closing up rather than continue to be extorted and those working for major corporations are now only working 29 hours.

            Move out here and see how you do.

          • godblessusa

            REAL Americans live in cities, too, Mrs. Palin, er, I mean Layla.

          • Layla

            Detroit ring a bell?

          • Pamela Volentine

            me, me! i live in a city, and last i checked, i’m a citizen!

          • Pamela Volentine

            maybe instead of blaming government for sub-29 hour work weeks, you should look to the corporations. it’s not as if they can’t afford to give people health insurance. when an average CEO makes over 300 times what their average worker makes, that tells me they can afford to a) pay a living wage; and b) contribute to pay a portion of a health insurance premium for their employees. sorry if it’s gotta cut into the CEO’s pay, but come on, do you really think the CEO is working 300 times harder than their average worker?

        • Layla

          A Republican President would already have been impeached by his own party.

          • godblessusa

            On what grounds?

          • Layla

            Do you really want me to list all the scandals with this Presidency?

        • Arrimine

          Who cares if the President is ok with it? He’s an employee – just like the members of Congress. What matters is if the boss (the public) is ok with it. Right now, a lot of people are unhappy about it but no one is claiming that House Republicans are exceeding their authority. Blame the system if you want to but the Tea Party representatives DID win at the ballot box — and on exactly this issue.

          • godblessusa

            “Tea Party representatives DID win at the ballot box”

            So did President Obama.

            That’s what makes your statement, “Who cares if the President is ok with it?” so utterly idiotic.

        • Captain America

          That’s precisely what Senator Obama had in mind when he voted against raising the debt limit in 2006.

          • godblessusa

            Still relying on a seven-year old quote by a freshman senator on a meaningless vote?

            The House GOP is totally out of arguments.

    • Layla

      This American stood by and watched this very small minded, vindictive, so called Leader of the Free World while he harassed veterans in their 90’s, eliminated cancer funding and then penalized the families of those killed in action.

      Please explain to me again why he deserves the respect of this nation. We will not continue to live like that, whether the Progs like it or not.

      Find a REAL LEADER, one who at least can PRETEND to love and honor this country and our Constitution.

      Can you find one?

      • godblessusa

        Republicans should not have shut down the government in the first place.

        And not making extortion a precedent IS loving the constitution.

        Would a Republican president find it acceptable for a Democratic House to extort what they failed to achieve legislatively and at the ballot box?

        • Layla

          Ask Bill Clinton, it happened to him and they reached a compromise.

        • Arrimine

          Had the Senate passed – and the President signed – any of the House budget proposals we would also not have a shutdown. Failure to reach a negotiated agreement is a failure on all parties.

          • Omega5250

            Uhm, the senate passed their own budget and there is a process known as reconciliation to hammer out the difference between the two. It seems some Republicans didn’t want that to happen. You seem to think that the senate and WH are a rubber stamp to the house. That is not how this government is supposed to work and why we have a system of checks and balances.

          • godblessusa

            The House is not in a position to impose its will by threatening to wreck stuff. It is but a single element of government.

            No other player – not the senate, not the White House – has shut down the government or threatened default if they don’t get their way.

            The House is overrun with petulant, ignorant amateurs. Just ask Speaker Boehner.

      • Pamela Volentine

        yeah, obama personally hates veterans, kids with cancer, and survivors of veterans. and i guess he kills kittens, too, huh?
        you are delusional.

  • Poshboy

    We’re going over the edge on Thursday midnight. Wow.

    I know my House Rs–having worked and met with a lot of them–and they will fight because this fight (America) is worth fighting. And it appears the White House does not give a damn about the US economy. They are putting all their chips in on this hand. The progress of the proletariat is at stake.

    Jeez, the White House is going to lose EVERYTHING on this one. History will be made over the next six weeks. This is like Midway, 1942.

    • sandbun

      So recently re-elected President, the Senate Democrats, the Senate Republicans, the House Democrats, and enough House Republicans to pass a bill all can agree on a deal to avoid the debt ceiling. But the House Republicans won’t allow a vote. Also if the House Republicans don’t get their way, then it’s proof that it’s Obama who doesn’t care about the US economy. That’s your logic.

      • Poshboy

        Don’t look at this from a single point of goal achievement. There are two diametrically opposed goals at work here: Republicans defending traditional America, and the Democrats moving social progress forward. Neither one can embrace defeat (or compromise) until external events impose themselves so severely that a decision must be made. Hopefully it won’t be too late; economies already on the brink generally are not very resilient.

        House R leadership under Mr Boehner can’t put a bill forward that will carry the R caucus, so why bother scheduling a vote? He could put the D bill forward, but that’s the end of his speakership.

        Should Mr B end his speakership to save a progressive/socialist President? Whose world is that?! Certainly not planet Earth.

        • sandbun

          I don’t think it’s Obama that needs saving from Boehner.

          He should do it to protect the US economy, and then work to convince enough voters to give him the legislators to undo Obamacare rather than this tactic of hostage taking. One would hope some things would be more important to him than keeping his speakership.

    • Beeker

      Who’s the adult here? It’s more like the Senate not the House who keeps trying to put a bill that won’t go anywhere. They don’t want to be in same spot they were in the last time around.

      • Layla

        The President of the United States bears the responsibility for the solution to this. It’s all up to him. I’m betting he allows it to default.

    • Layla

      Only the prez can default and that’s an impeachable offense. Plan for it. It has been his goal all along.

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