House Republican leadership unveiled a debt-limit strategy to membership on Monday night, leaving many conservatives wondering what exactly is in the bill for Republicans.
“The bottom line is this: This plan increases spending and raises the debt ceiling. So it makes our financial condition as a country more precarious in the years going forward,” Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama said of the plan, which would add an extra year of mandatory sequestration cuts in order to offset the cost of eliminating reductions to military pensions.
Brooks and others called the additional sequestration cuts, which won’t come until 2024, a gimmick, noting that little Congress might do that far down the line is set in stone. Just look at the original sequestration cuts, which were altered in December’s budget agreement, only nine months after they first took effect.
“Yeah, a decade from now [we’ll get the offset], which to me is no offset at all,” Brooks said. “You have to go through 10 years of Congresses before you have a pay-for for an expenditure that is immediate.”
This is the second time in recent months that Congress has looked to sequestration to offset new spending. Once viewed as cuts so terrifying that no member of Congress would allow them to take effect, a majority of members in both parties and both chambers passed the budget deal in December that added another two years to the mandatory sequester cuts.
“When you have a president that doesn’t want to go to the mandatory side of spending and we’ve cut below what even the Republicans put out there on the discretionary side, you’re left with no other options,” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., argued.
“Look, nobody likes any of this. But there’s problems with every bill we put up. I just think the leadership feels this one gives the best chance for us to get Republicans and Democrats to vote for it, get us to 218 votes,” Nunes added.
Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., indicated that he’ll be a “no” vote but agreed that leadership is doing its best to get members from both parties to pass a debt-ceiling hike. “They’re trying their best to find their answer,” he said.
House Republicans were expected to post the bill with the Rules Committee Monday evening, setting up a Wednesday-morning vote and leaving little time for argument within the caucus. Still, members overall expect the bill to pass easily with Republican and Democratic support. One House Republican estimated that as much as 50 percent of his caucus would support the measure.
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.