Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

Collins Stands Behind Plan as Leaders Attempt Larger Deal

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, continues to promote a framework she has advanced with 11 other senators of both parties to reopen the government and avert default, even after its rejection by Senate Democratic leaders.

As Roll Call reported earlier Saturday, Collins has met multiple times with the bipartisan group, though after Democrats publicly rebuffed her effort, she canceled a press conference where multiple senators were invited and planned to appear.

“Despite Senator Harry Reid’s unfortunate dismissal of the 6-point plan that I have advanced with Senators Lisa Murkowski and Kelly Ayotte, it continues to attract bipartisan support,” Collins said in a statement Saturday. “Six Senate Republicans and six Senate Democrats met twice today to discuss how we could move forward with the plan or some version of it. These meetings were constructive and give me hope that a bipartisan solution to reopen government and prevent default is within our reach.”

Collins formally outlined the working proposal as part of her statement. According to the release put forth by the Maine Republican’s office, this is the six-point plan supported by the bipartisan working group.

1. Fund the government at an annual rate of $986 billion for six months.

2. Extend the debt limit until January 31, 2014.

3. Delay the Medical Device Tax for two years. The plan would delay the 2.3 percent excise tax on the sales of medical equipment, such as pacemakers and defibrillators, established by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. During budget resolution votes earlier this year, a Hatch-Klobuchar amendment supporting repeal passed the Senate by a 79-20 margin. To offset the cost of repealing the medical device tax, the plan would extend “pension smoothing” provisions contained in the MAP-21 bill, passed in 2012.

4. Provide federal agencies with greater flexibility to fund priorities. The plan includes language to provide federal agencies with flexibility to mitigate the impact of automatic spending cuts imposed by sequestration. The proposal would also assure appropriate Congressional oversight of these decisions by requiring agencies to submit their spending proposals to the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction.

5. Include income verification provisions to prevent fraud and ensure only eligible individuals receive subsidies on the insurance exchanges.

6. Direct an immediate conference on the budget with instructions for conferees to report by January 15, 2014.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are engaged in delicate and preliminary talks to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling before Congress’ Oct. 17 default deadline.

The signal from McConnell — delivered by numerous GOP senators leaving a morning caucus meeting — that he is open to negotiating is a strong sign that he intends to be a key player in any final agreement, as he has at previous fiscal deadlines. Senate Democrats express private worry that the White House could undercut their united front against the GOP, and any administration official (especially Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.) engaging McConnell could be the surest realization of those fears.

The Senate will gavel back into session Sunday at 1 p.m. But the clock is running to get something done before Thursday, and though Democratic sources hoped that no GOP senator would object to ceding back time on a deal, someone like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, could still force lawmakers to run out the clock, which would jam House leaders even more than they already are.

  • Gumpchun

    Collins plan was an insult to Democrats’ intelligence and a striking show of utter disrespect for the President. Clearly Collins expects Obama to simply cave in after more than 6 months of saying he would not sign any deal that linked the shutdown and debt ceiling to legislative concessions, since that would be rewarding terrible extortionate behavior by the House GOP.

    Oh that Obama, he’ll sign anything. So let’s get a grab bag of goodies, cuts to Obamacare’s funding, and a lower spending level than even the House CR. What utter hubris and contempt on the part of Collins.

    I guess she and her buddies figured, this is the time he always caves. They figured wrong. This is the end of the line for all of this extortion. Obama can only promise one thing: serious negotiations once the two bills are passed. NOTHING prior to that. NO cuts, NO modifications, NO delays. NOTHING.

    Susan Collin may have thought she could sweet talk Obama with her garbage bill, but that particular con game is dead and gone.

    • Gmama

      The government is divided, the House Republicans have a right to expect compromise. that is how the government was designed. In this plan each side makes concessions, and Collins already has support from Democrats. The medical device tax is horrible and most sane Democrats want it repealed.

      • Gumpchun

        Compromise has already taken place. This is sheer extportion and despicable hostage taking. The CR has been done at the harsh and crazy sequester levels. So the GOP already has their compromise.

        To then try to attack Obamacare by shutting down the government deserves nothing, zero. It is extortion. Democrats should threaten to shut down the government unless all assault weapons are banned and amnesty is granted and funding for jobs programs and an infrastructure bank are greatly increased. Otherwise the government defaults and closes and the GOP has to give up their positions in a “compromise.”

        That isn’t government, that is anarchy.

        And There is nothing wrong with that medical device tax, at all. It has just been attacked by an army of lobbyists paid to do so and say anything to get rid of it. If it has to go, then it has to be replaced, dollar for dollar, with new revenues, not some accounting gimmicks.

        Until the GOP is willing to do that, no deal. We don’t need to starve Obamacare of funding while the House plots how to financially squeeze it even more.

        Anyway, none of that is worth shutting down the government and defaulting on the debt. This has been a wild, shameless and utterly destructive pursuit by Republicans, tanking our economy when they don’t have the votes.

        So much for the great patriots. Is it any wonder that 3 out of four Americans hates the GOP?

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