Debt-Ceiling Debate Takes Shape

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to reporters after attending the weekly Democrat policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on February 4, 2014 in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats gathered at a luncheon to discuss various issues inlcluding todays Farm Bill vote.
National Journal
Michael Catalin and Billy House
Add to Briefcase
Michael Catalin Billy House
Feb. 4, 2014, 3:44 p.m.

The fight over the debt ceil­ing has be­gun in earn­est.

Just hours after House Re­pub­lic­ans emerged from a strategy ses­sion in the re­cesses of the Cap­it­ol, where they dis­cussed con­ces­sions they’d like to see the White House and Sen­ate Demo­crats agree to, Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic lead­ers un­pack­aged their pre­for­mu­lated re­sponses and shot down any such sug­ges­tion.

“Let me be clear: We can­not and will not play games with the full faith and cred­it of our coun­try,” Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id said. “We can’t again have to worry about host­age-takers, if that’s what they want.”

After largely stay­ing on the side­lines in re­cent weeks, House Re­pub­lic­ans have now of­fi­cially joined the de­bate over hik­ing the more-than-$17 tril­lion debt ceil­ing. In re­sponse to Demo­crats’ re­fus­al to ne­go­ti­ate on the na­tion’s debt lim­it — a stance that served them well dur­ing the show­down in the fall — GOP House mem­bers are con­sid­er­ing a strategy that would force the Sen­ate in­to a series of un­pop­u­lar votes.

“Look, if this is about ass cov­er­ing — I get it,” said Rep. Jim McGov­ern, D-Mass., a mem­ber of the House Rules Com­mit­tee. “If they want to throw a little red meat out to their con­stitu­ents by for­cing votes on things that won’t pass, that’s fine — as long as they don’t hold things up. It’s when they do that, draw­ing things out, that there are prob­lems.”

The House strategy, which is still evolving, may in­volve for­cing the Sen­ate to vote on a num­ber of Re­pub­lic­an ini­ti­at­ives, but without mak­ing pas­sage of those meas­ures a re­quire­ment for rais­ing the na­tion’s bor­row­ing lim­it.

Un­der the plan, the House would vote sep­ar­ately on two or more meas­ures. One of those would per­mit rais­ing the ceil­ing on the na­tion­al debt. The oth­ers would con­tain items sought by Re­pub­lic­ans, such as ap­prov­al of the Key­stone XL pipeline or re­peal of the so-called risk-cor­ridor pro­vi­sions in the Af­ford­able Care Act, which some call a bail­out for in­sur­ance com­pan­ies.

These mul­tiple res­ol­u­tions would be brought un­der a rule that al­lows the Sen­ate to pass the first meas­ure as a “clean” debt-ceil­ing in­crease, but only after sen­at­ors vote on the oth­er res­ol­u­tions, which could con­tain meas­ures that Re­pub­lic­ans be­lieve would be polit­ic­ally dif­fi­cult for Demo­crats to re­ject.

Re­id did not ad­dress any of the spe­cif­ic meas­ures, oth­er than to dis­miss the no­tion of passing any­thing but a clean ex­ten­sion.

But Demo­crats did seize upon a Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice re­port re­leased Tues­day that said the risk-cor­ridor pro­vi­sions would bring in $8 bil­lion for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. Re­peal­ing them, Demo­crats ar­gue, would only in­crease the de­fi­cit.

“It’s a re­mind­er that Re­pub­lic­ans are so des­per­ate to at­tack the Af­ford­able Care Act that they will do or say just about any­thing, in­clud­ing throw­ing their own sup­posed prin­ciples on debt re­duc­tion un­der the bus,” Sen­ate Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­wo­man Patty Mur­ray said in a state­ment.

The House strategy to tie a debt-ceil­ing res­ol­u­tion un­der one rule with an­oth­er bill was floated last fall. House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor pro­posed a sim­il­ar move as House con­ser­vat­ives were in­sist­ing on de­fund­ing or delay­ing Obama­care in re­turn for a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion to keep gov­ern­ment fun­ded.

That strategy was re­jec­ted by con­ser­vat­ives as not provid­ing enough real lever­age to force Demo­crats to aban­don their res­ist­ance to the GOP’s Obama­care ef­forts. What res­ul­ted was a stan­doff that led to the gov­ern­ment shut­down.

But Re­pub­lic­an of­fi­cials say that same strategy could be well suited to the cur­rent cli­mate, in which Re­pub­lic­ans are clearly not in­ter­ested in a ma­jor show­down. As one House Re­pub­lic­an put it, “There’s been an edu­ca­tion­al curve.”

What We're Following See More »
BUCKING THE BOSS?
Trump Cabinet Full of TPP Supporters
3 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

"President-elect Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his way to winning the White House and has vowed immediately to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation accord. Several of his cabinet picks and other early nominees to top posts, however, have endorsed or spoken favorably about the trade pact, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, announced Wednesday as Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Department of Defense."

Source:
LIFTS PRE-EXISTING ORDER
Judge Effectively Ends Michigan Recount
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
WWE WRESTLING OWNER
Trump to Nominate Linda McMahon to Head SBA
16 hours ago
THE LATEST
$6.3 BILLION FOR RESEARCH AND OPIOIDS
Senate Sends Medical Cures Bill to Obama’s Desk
20 hours ago
THE LATEST
HAD CONSIDERED RUNNING FOR GUV IN 2018
Oklahoma AG Pruitt to Get the Nod for EPA Chief
21 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

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