Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 28, 2015

Senators Negotiate on Several Fronts as Reid and McConnell Step Up (Updated)

Sen. Susan Collins (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Collins talks to reporters on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:22 p.m. | A bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, met Saturday morning to discuss an emerging framework to raise the debt limit and re-open the government, according to multiple sources familiar with the meeting.

But Collins and her group may be overshadowed by negotiations between Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Several GOP senators said after a caucus meeting Saturday morning that McConnell and Reid are in talks to find an acceptable solution before the Oct. 17 debt limit deadline.

“It’s still very early,” said one aide familiar with the talks.

Senate Democratic aides indicated that there was no appetite yet for the Collins plan as drafted. But as members and aides on both sides struggle to find a resolution, any plan on the table could gain traction — especially if it has strong backing across caucuses.

“I think it’s going to come down to Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell working together over the weekend, making a recommendation to both caucuses,” Sen. Lamar Alexander said.

“The House seems to be having a hard time. The president’s not helping much,” the Tennessee Republican added. “Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell are the adults in the room and hopefully they’ll be able to make a recommendation.”

He continued, “I think they’re both very experienced, very able and have a sense of the institution. It’s harder than it looks. It’s like everyone enjoys watching these NFL quarterbacks and wonders why they didn’t throw it one place or the other. That’s — that’s harder than it looks. This is harder than it looks too.”

House Republicans have already indicated they will treat any Senate deal extremely skeptically.

Though all members of the Collins group have not been confirmed, sources said Collins invited some of those senators to join her at a 12:45 p.m. news conference Saturday. Multiple sources said the group includes Collins’ in-state colleague, independent Sen. Angus King, Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III. As CQ Roll Call previously reported, Senate Republicans are growing anxious waiting for the House to act and several are involved in the Collins effort, including Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Sen. Mark S. Kirk is also a member of the group, the Illinois Republican confirmed.

Senate Democrats are scheduled to have a caucus meeting after a procedural vote at noon on Reid’s clean one-year debt limit suspension, which failed to overcome a GOP-led filibuster by a vote of 53-45. Sixty votes were needed. Senate Republicans met before the vote.

Senators of both parties have decided the chamber needs to move forward with a plan instead of just waiting on the House. Reid said of House Republicans on the floor Saturday, “It’s over with. They’re done. They’re not talking anymore.” And McConnell told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he is ready to negotiate and end the standoff that has shuttered the government for nearly two weeks.


  • MrSmith

    McConnell has a tough enough row to hoe without Collins and the republican left-wing (such as it is) backstabbing him.
    But, of course, her motives are pure…

  • F Michael Addams

    When the house passes a clean CR…their teabilly shutdown of our government will end…If that means we wait for the discharge petition later this be it..

  • daroldstagner

    Cap the debt and really close the government. I know a guy who is in his late 70s. He earns $200k per year working for a federal contractor. He receives two separate retirement pensions from previous federal jobs. The Obama administration is violating the law on a daily basis (EPA, State, FDIC, DOJ and others) and only
    the Tea Party conservatives can stop them. McCain and his ilk are just
    in the way.

    • ivan

      you had best check the records. Obama does not control social security or anything really..your congress, both houses , is actually to blame for every bill passed or not passed. There is corruption in every area of our government in one from or the other..has to be with all the lobbyist money floating in Washington and your senators and house reps taking in every dime they can get. Lets not forget that your congressional reps pass their own pay raises…create their own health care …and charge it all to the tax payers. Would be interesting to know just how many of our politicians actually paid any taxes last year.

      • daroldstagner

        Within the past 3 years, I have been directly involved in actions with the EPA, SEC and FDIC where those agencies have willfully violated the law. That is new to the Obama administration. It did not happen before. I am very clear on the records. In two instances I was in the meetings.

  • Paladin

    Remember when he seized the TN govt from a dem apparatchik during the ‘lame duck’ period. Stones are a temporary condition… not sure if it’s a characteristic of youth or entitlement. Either way, he’s a Roman Senator!!!

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