Talks Swing Back to Reid, McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) walks through the Capitol building on October 14, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Billy House and Michael Catalini
Add to Briefcase
Billy House Michael Catalini
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 »
TRUMP CONTINUES TO LAWYER UP
Kasowitz Out, John Dowd In
38 minutes ago
THE LATEST

As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."

Source:
ALSO INQUIRES ABOUT PARDON POWER
Trump Looking to Discredit Mueller
53 minutes ago
THE LATEST

President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.

Source:
INCLUDES NY PROBE INTO MANAFORT
Why Yes, Mueller Is Looking into Trump Businesses
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."

Source:
FIRST TIME SINCE ITS CREATION
House Reauthorizes DHS
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.

Source:
OPPONENTS SAY SHE SHOULD RESIGN
AFT’s Weingarten Likens Voucher Support to Segregation
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."

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