Senate Democrats Open to a Debt Ceiling Bill That Isn’t Clean

The new House GOP plan isn’t dead yet in the Senate.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 29: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is trailed by reporters while arriving for a markup of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence October 29, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee is also researching allegations of surveillance related to allied heads of state by the National Security Administration.
National Journal
Elahe Izadi
See more stories about...
Elahe Izadi
Feb. 10, 2014, 2:45 p.m.

Demo­crats have stayed con­sist­ent for months: They’ll give noth­ing in re­turn for rais­ing the debt ceil­ing. But they may have to re­think that po­s­i­tion soon.

The latest House Re­pub­lic­ans plan to in­crease the debt lim­it is via a bill that also rolls back cuts to mil­it­ary vet­er­ans’ pen­sions, pay­ing for it by adding an ad­di­tion­al year of man­dat­ory se­quester cuts in 2024.

That means, if the plan passes the House, the Sen­ate will have to de­cide what to do with a debt-ceil­ing in­crease that has something at­tached to it. And a num­ber of Sen­ate Demo­crats didn’t shut the door on the pos­sib­il­ity of vot­ing for such a meas­ure. Jack Reed of Rhode Is­land didn’t rule it out; while say­ing the most im­port­ant thing is to raise the debt ceil­ing, he’d have to wait to see what is in such a bill that in­cluded a roll­back to the mil­it­ary cuts.

The Sen­ate is con­sid­er­ing a bill this week to re­verse the $6 bil­lion in cost-of-liv­ing cuts without a pay-for, with its pro­spects un­cer­tain. The bill eas­ily passed a pro­ced­ur­al hurdle Monday, but Re­pub­lic­ans want to of­fer amend­ments on how to pay for it. So far, such pro­pos­als have been polit­ic­al non­starters.

Be­fore the House GOP plan emerged in earn­est, Demo­crat­ic Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski, who chairs the Sen­ate Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee,  said she was also in the wait-and-see cat­egory on any House-passed debt-ceil­ing in­crease. “We have to look at this, just like now we’re try­ing to come to the floor on deal­ing with the mil­it­ary COLA,” she said. “I can’t com­ment un­til we see what the deal is.”

In­de­pend­ent Sen. An­gus King, who caucuses with Demo­crats, said that adding on a vet’ pen­sion meas­ure isn’t a deal-break­er in and of it­self. “I don’t like the prin­ciple of at­tach­ing things, but if they at­tach something that’s good, that every­one can agree on, I’ll cer­tainly con­sider it,” he said.

When asked if he would only vote for a clean debt-lim­it in­crease, Sen. Robert Men­en­dez, D-N.J., said, “it would be my de­sire to vote only on a debt lim­it, up or down.”

The House Re­pub­lic­an plan emerged from a closed-door meet­ing Monday night, which Sen­ate Budget Chair Patty Mur­ray cri­ti­cized be­fore it even broke out, as she ad­voc­ates for a debt lim­it clean in­crease: “Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers shouldn’t need an­oth­er meet­ing to fig­ure out that debt-lim­it brink­man­ship doesn’t work, be­cause they are even hear­ing from their own tea-party mem­bers that they should give up and walk back the ransom de­mands,” Mur­ray said in a state­ment.

House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship had been look­ing for a way to move a debt-ceil­ing in­crease through their cham­ber for well over a week. “They’ve gone through a new idea every few days, so we’ll see what they end up send­ing over, but Demo­crats have been clear that there will be no ransom paid to al­low the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to pay its bills and avoid a crisis,” one Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic aide offered.

White House spokes­man Jay Car­ney was asked Monday about the pos­sible House Re­pub­lic­an plan. “We’re not go­ing to pay a ransom of any kind in re­turn for Con­gress do­ing its job,” he re­spon­ded.

Demo­crats have been suc­cess­ful in hold­ing the line against con­sid­er­ing any­thing short of a clean debt-lim­it vote, but if the Sen­ate fails to reach an agree­ment on how to re­verse the mil­it­ary cuts that so many people on both sides of the aisle don’t like, they may feel some pres­sure to con­sider what the House sends over. A seni­or Re­pub­lic­an House aide did not ex­pect the Sen­ate to send a clean debt ceil­ing in­crease back to the House.

“There’s a lot of prin­ciples here,” Mikul­ski said, later adding, “On prin­ciple, I’m flex­ible.”

This story has been up­dated for clar­ity.

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
7 REPUBLICANS ON STAGE
Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.

Source:
×