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
Add to Briefcase
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.

Sarah MimmsStacy Kaper contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
INCLUDES WAIVER FOR MATTIS
Congress Releases Stopgap Funding Bill
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Congressional negotiators released a stopgap spending bill Tuesday night to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday and to fund federal agencies and programs through April 28." The 70-page continuing resolution includes $170 million to aid Flint, Michigan's water supply, and a waiver that would allow Ret. Gen. James Mattis to assume the role of secretary of Defense.

Source:
INTERSTATE COMPACT GAINING TRACTION
Democrats Explore Electoral College Changes
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"A number of Capitol Hill Democrats have revived proposals to reform or abolish the Electoral College," chief among Michigan's John Conyers, who "held a panel on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss options for eliminating the Electoral College and replacing it with a system where a national popular vote elects the president. ... The plan with the most support to reform the election college at the panel was the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a proposal first developed in 2001 that would give the national popular vote winner the majority of electoral college votes through an agreement between the states."

Source:
EFFORT LIKELY TO DIE IN COMMITTEE
Jordan Can’t Force a Floor Vote on Impeaching Koskinen
15 hours ago
THE LATEST
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan attempted to force a floor vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, but "the House voted overwhelmingly to refer it to the Judiciary Committee. ... The committee will not be required to take up the resolution." Earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi "made a motion to table the resolution, which the House voted against by a 180-235 margin, mostly along party lines."
Source:
AFTER THE VOTE FOR SPEAKER
Ryan: No Committee Assignments Until New Year
20 hours ago
THE DETAILS

House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.

Source:
EXPECTED TO FUND THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH SPRING
Funding Bill To Be Released Tuesday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login