Well, it looks like House Republicans are back to the drawing board over what to do about the debt limit.
House Leadership has pulled the plug on proposals that would tie raising the debt ceiling to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline or eliminating the so-called risk corridors in the Affordable Care Act, because neither plan could reach 218 votes, according to a House aide with knowledge of the talks.
The debt limit has been suspended through Feb. 7, and the Treasury Department estimates it can take enough extraordinary measures to last through the end of the month before risking default.
Republicans may seek other priorities in exchange for raising the debt limit, but no clear strategy has emerged.
A number of Republicans have anticipated that the House will eventually vote on a clean debt-ceiling increase. Even conservatives such as Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho are saying that’s the path forward. “I actually think we should just do a clean debt ceiling,” he told reporters this week. “Give the Democrats their vote. We don’t have to vote for it.”
Another conservative, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, echoed that sentiment: “I think at the end of the day we’re basically going to have something equivalent to a clean debt ceiling increase,” he said Tuesday. “I wish they would do something substantive, but they’re not going to, so let’s just avoid the theater and get on with it.”
The risk corridor provision of the Affordable Care Act would partially reimburse insurance companies for people who wind up costing insurers more than they paid in premiums by over 3 percent. The program is only in place for three years, beginning with this year.
On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office found that the program would save the government about $8 billion.