Talks Swing Back to Reid, McConnell

None

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) walks through the Capitol building on October 14, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Michael Catalini Billy House
Michael Catalini Billy House
Oct. 15, 2013, 6:56 p.m.

With the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s dead­line for de­fault roughly a day away, ne­go­ti­ations shif­ted again to the Sen­ate late Wed­nes­day, with Demo­crat­ic and Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers op­tim­ist­ic that a deal could be an­nounced soon.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id and Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell re­star­ted talks that had stalled for much of Tues­day soon after it be­came clear that the House’s at­tempt to pass le­gis­la­tion had failed. And a deal, which lead­ers had said was close to the fin­ish line be­fore Tues­day’s de­tour, ap­peared to co­alesce quickly.

The agree­ment, which had yet to be an­nounced by the lead­ers as of Tues­day night, would ex­tend the debt lim­it un­til Feb. 7, and in­clude a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion un­til Jan. 15, ac­cord­ing to a source fa­mil­i­ar with the ne­go­ti­ations. The deal would also in­clude a Dec. 15 dead­line for a budget con­fer­ence re­port, as well as an an­ti­fraud pro­vi­sion de­signed to veri­fy in­come for those who re­ceive sub­sidies un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act, the source said.

The next pro­ced­ur­al steps in the Sen­ate are still murky. Sen­at­ors and aides say there was con­cern that the agree­ment could be held up — al­though not com­pletely blocked, as­sum­ing Re­id and Mc­Con­nell in­struct sen­at­ors not to fili­buster — be­cause of the Sen­ate’s rules re­quir­ing up to 30 hours be­fore a vote.

“There are ways for mem­bers of the Sen­ate to delay even a bi­par­tis­an agree­ment if they wish,” said Ma­jor­ity Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “I hope they don’t.”

Asked wheth­er Re­id would file for clo­ture Tues­day night on a Sen­ate bill, Durbin said the de­tails were still be­ing worked out with Mc­Con­nell.

“Ba­sic­ally in or­der to move this quickly [Wed­nes­day] or as soon there­after as pos­sible, we need the co­oper­a­tion of mem­bers,” Durbin said. “If they want to drag their feet, use every ob­jec­tion they can, this could take a few days.”

The Treas­ury De­part­ment set Oct. 17 — Thursday — as a dead­line for de­fault, and Sec­ret­ary Jac­ob Lew is to meet with Pres­id­ent Obama on Wed­nes­day.

After arch­ing their backs at the no­tion that House Speak­er John Boehner would pro­pose a GOP al­tern­at­ive to the Re­id-Mc­Con­nell deal, Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic lead­ers seemed re­as­sured that the bi­par­tis­an talks were back on track.

“Things look a lot bet­ter than they did sev­er­al hours ago,” said Sen. Chuck Schu­mer, D-N.Y., who de­clined to elab­or­ate.

Durbin would not con­firm that a deal had been inked, but soun­ded op­tim­ist­ic.

“There was def­in­itely a sus­pen­sion of ne­go­ti­ations un­til Speak­er Boehner’s plight was ob­vi­ous,” he said. “They’re still work­ing on the de­tails between Sen­at­ors Mc­Con­nell and Re­id. We’re mak­ing good pro­gress.”

One sign of what’s at stake came when the cred­it-rat­ing agency Fitch put the United States’ AAA cred­it rat­ing un­der re­view on Tues­day. In a state­ment, the agency said that “al­though Fitch con­tin­ues to be­lieve that the debt ceil­ing will be raised soon, the polit­ic­al brink­man­ship and re­duced fin­an­cing flex­ib­il­ity could in­crease the risk of a U.S. de­fault.”

Of course, law­makers have had months to avert the cur­rent crisis. But as il­lus­trated yet again Tues­day, olive branches are eas­ily snapped in this Con­gress, and par­tis­an­ship and polit­ic­al pres­sure are highly val­ued. The im­plo­sion on Tues­day of the House plan to put le­gis­la­tion to a vote was a very pub­lic ex­ample.

That plan, as ini­tially laid out to rank-and-file mem­bers in a closed-door meet­ing, seemed to build on the Sen­ate frame­work, with the ad­di­tion of items that the House Re­pub­lic­ans have been seek­ing, such as a two-year delay of a med­ic­al-device tax and lan­guage to ban gov­ern­ment health care sub­sidies for mem­bers of Con­gress and the pres­id­ent’s Cab­in­et.

But it be­came clear­er throughout the day that the plan was simply in­ad­equate for some con­ser­vat­ives. By early even­ing, the death knell may have come in the form of an an­nounce­ment by the in­flu­en­tial con­ser­vat­ive group Her­it­age Ac­tion, which op­posed the bill and an­nounced that it would be in­cluded as a key vote on the group’s le­gis­lat­ive score­card.

It was soon after that House Rules Com­mit­tee Chair­man Pete Ses­sions, R-Texas, an­nounced that a hear­ing to set pro­ced­ures for a floor vote Tues­day night was post­poned. Ses­sions and oth­er House GOP lead­ers re­treated to Boehner’s of­fice. Shortly be­fore 7 p.m., they emerged to say there would not be any House votes Tues­day night.

Ses­sions did not say what, ex­actly, the House planned to do on Wed­nes­day bey­ond hav­ing more “dis­cus­sion.” But he did re­mark, “We’re wait­ing for the Sen­ate to get its work done.”

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
3 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
3 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
3 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’
3 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
2 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:
×