Debt-Ceiling Watch: No House Vote on Shutdown

The latest updates from Congress, with one day to go until the debt-limit.

The US Congress building is seen behind the top of a food truck in Washington, DC, October 14, 2013.
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National Journal Staff
Oct. 15, 2013, 5:41 a.m.

For Live Up­dates for Wed­nes­day, Check Here.

Time is run­ning out to come to a deal on the debt lim­it. The gov­ern­ment has already been shut down for 15 days. And the fin­ish-line just keeps mov­ing fur­ther and fur­ther away, as the Treas­ury’s Oc­to­ber 17 dead­line for when the gov­ern­ment could be­gin to de­fault re­mains stable.

And to­night, pro­gress halts once again, even while one cred­it agency brings Amer­ica’s AAA rat­ing un­der re­view. After Boehner con­vened a meet­ing with House lead­er­ship in the early even­ing, it be­came clear that no House votes will be tak­ing place Tues­day.

Earli­er Tues­day, House con­ser­vat­ives pushed Speak­er Boehner to re­ject a bur­geon­ing Sen­ate com­prom­ise, and Boehner in­stead in­tro­duced a new deal of his own. That deal would have raised the debt-ceil­ing un­til Feb­ru­ary 7 and fun­ded the gov­ern­ment un­til Decem­ber 15. It would also would have in­cluded a meas­ure that strips em­ploy­er health care sub­sidies for mem­bers of Con­gress, their staffs, and cab­in­et of­fi­cials. Un­like the Sen­ate deal, the House deal have would not called for a bicam­er­al budget con­fer­ence. Boehner didn’t have the votes to move for­ward with a vote on the pro­pos­al.

Mean­while in the Sen­ate, Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id and Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell are try­ing to hash out a deal, their spokes­men con­firm­ing Tues­day night that talks were con­tinu­ing.

As of Tues­day af­ter­noon, the Sen­at­ors were dis­cuss­ing a deal that would fund the gov­ern­ment un­til Janu­ary 15 and raise the debt lim­it un­til Feb­ru­ary 7. It would also cre­ate a bicam­er­al con­fer­ence to come to a long-term tax and spend­ing plan, with a re­port due by Decem­ber 13. The pro­pos­al would only touch Obama­care at the mar­gins: tight­en­ing in­come-veri­fic­a­tion stand­ards for people who re­ceive sub­sidies and a pos­sible one-year delay of the re­in­sur­ance tax, which is paid by em­ploy­ers.

There’s a lot go­ing on, and there’s even more at stake. Stick here for up­dates from Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s team of Con­gres­sion­al re­port­ers throughout the day.

UP­DATE (7:23 p.m.): Sen­ate Lead­ers Say They Will Work To­ward Deal

“Giv­en to­night’s events, the Lead­ers have de­cided to work to­ward a solu­tion that would re­open the gov­ern­ment and pre­vent de­fault,” Mi­chael Bru­man, a Mc­Con­nell spokes­man, writes in an email state­ment. “They are op­tim­ist­ic an agree­ment can be reached.”

Adam Jentleson, Sen­at­or Re­id’s spokes­man, echoed the same. “Sen­at­or Re­id and Sen­at­or Mc­Con­nell have re-en­gaged in ne­go­ti­ations and are op­tim­ist­ic that an agree­ment is with­in reach,” he wrote in an email state­ment.

UP­DATE (7:00 p.m.): Con­firmed, The House Vote Isn’t Hap­pen­ing

There will be no vote on a House bill to end the shut­down Tues­day. Boehner does not have the votes to pass his pro­pos­al. Ma­jor­ity Whip Kev­in Mc­Carthy (R-Cal­if.) tells the Wash­ing­ton Post “We are done for the night.”

UP­DATE (6:06 p.m.): The House Vote (Prob­ably) Isn’t Hap­pen­ing

And just like that, a full day comes to this: Na­tion­al Re­view‘s Robert Costa re­ports that there will be no vote to­night on the House GOP plan to raise the debt-lim­it and re­open the gov­ern­ment. Mean­while, a House lead­er­ship aide says “no de­cision has been made at this time. The elec­ted lead­er­ship will meet soon.”It’s not at all clear where House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship goes from here. If they go fur­ther to the right to ap­pease their caucus, a plan would have even less of a chance of be­ing treated ser­i­ously by the Sen­ate. And if they don’t go more to the right, they risk los­ing a ma­jor­ity of House Re­pub­lic­an votes.

Time is now ser­i­ously short, and there aren’t any hours left to ne­go­ti­ate, vote, and pre­vent a debt-ceil­ing breach. (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (6:05 p.m.): What Happened in the Rules Com­mit­tee

The House Rules Com­mit­tee was sup­posed to have a hear­ing earli­er this even­ing on the House GOP plan. It didn’t hap­pen, and it didn’t look good for the bill’s chances in the House.

But Ses­sions tried to de­pict de­vel­op­ments in a dif­fer­ent light, say­ing the delay will al­low mem­bers to “touch base with people back home and ma­jor con­stitu­en­cies.”

He noted that the bill had only been pub­licly pos­ted shortly be­fore the meet­ing, and un­til that text came out, “no one really knew what we were do­ing.”

“So now that we’ve pos­ted the text, our mem­bers then take that off the web site and are call­ing people back home, mak­ing sure that they’re not second-guessed,” and mak­ing sure “there is un­der­stand­ing back home,” he said.

“It is my hope that we will give mem­bers time to ap­pro­pri­ately un­der­stand what’s in the bill, meet with people, and have those dis­cus­sions” said Ses­sions, a Re­pub­lic­an from Texas and a close ally of Speak­er John Boehner, R-Ohio. “Aand I have put the en­tire com­mit­tee on no­tice that I would in­tend to give them an hour’s no­tice.

“And so, while I feel a big rush ““ it’s more im­port­ant to do it right than it is to do it. So that’s why I’m de­fer­ring the meet­ing for a few hours,” said Ses­sions.

Re­spon­ded an aide to a top Demo­crat on the com­mit­tee of the sud­den Re­pub­lic­an move, “Def­in­itely pan­ic on their side. House Rs jump­ing ship over Her­it­age key­ing vote.” (By Billy House)

UP­DATE (5:43 p.m.): Is the House Bill Dead?

The House Rules Com­mit­tee is no longer hav­ing a hear­ing to­night about the House GOP deal. House Rules Chair­man Pete Ses­sions, R-Tex., said “we’re not go­ing to have a rules com­mit­tee meet­ing at this time.”

 It’s now un­clear wheth­er or not the bill will be able to make it to the floor for a vote to­night. Politico‘s Jake Sher­man re­ports that House Re­pub­lic­ans may not have had the votes to pass the bill. (By Billy House and Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (5:22 p.m.): Her­it­age Ac­tion: Vote No on the House GOP Deal

The power­ful Her­it­age Ac­tion group has de­cided to key vote the new House GOP plan. They’re against it:

“Un­for­tu­nately, the pro­posed deal will do noth­ing to stop Obama­care’s massive new en­ti­tle­ments from tak­ing root — rad­ic­ally chan­ging the nature of Amer­ic­an health care.”

Her­it­age Ac­tion pre­vi­ously sug­ges­ted that they wouldn’t key vote a straight debt-lim­it raise. The ac­tion of “key vot­ing” the bill means that Her­it­age will make a note of the vote on their le­gis­lat­ive score­cards, which could give cov­er to vote against the bill for some con­ser­vat­ives already on the edge. The ac­tion could also make it more dif­fi­cult for some House con­ser­vat­ives to back lead­er­ship.

Speak­er Boehner now has a ma­jor task ahead of him: get­ting enough Re­pub­lic­an votes to get his deal through the House to­night, even with ma­jor con­ser­vat­ive pres­sure weigh­ing against him. Nancy Pelosi has already said that she ex­pects no Demo­crats to vote for this bill. (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (5:02 p.m.): Cred­it Rat­ing Watch

The cred­it rat­ing agency Fitch has put the United States’ AAA cred­it rat­ing un­der re­view for a down­grade. 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.” (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (4:56 p.m.): Here’s the House Bill

Fresh from the Rules Com­mit­tee. A vote is ex­pec­ted be­fore 8 p.m. (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (4:40 p.m.): House GOP Plan Goes to the Rules Com­mit­tee

The House Rules Com­mit­tee has set its hear­ing on the new House plan for 5:40 p.m. The bill is be­ing pos­ted now. Once that hear­ing is over, it’s time for a vote. (By Billy House)

UP­DATE (4:26 p.m.): House Dems Speak at the White House

House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi tried to give a voice of op­tim­ism at the White House, say­ing that the con­sequences of a debt-ceil­ing breach would be so “cata­stroph­ic” that she hopes some Re­pub­lic­ans will “see the light.”

Demo­crat­ic Whip Steny Hoy­er called the meet­ing with the pres­id­ent “very pos­it­ive.” (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (4:10 p.m.): Freedom­Works Trashes House GOP Plan

The in­flu­en­tial (but cash-strapped) con­ser­vat­ive group Freedom­Works has just sent out a re­lease stat­ing op­pos­i­tion to the new House GOP plan.”It’s a non-starter for grass­roots Amer­ica,” writes Freedom­Works’ Dean Clancy. 

As has been the case for a while now, Freedom­Works wants House Re­pub­lic­ans to hold out for a delay of the in­di­vidu­al man­date, at the min­im­um. (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (3:50 p.m.): The New House GOP Plan

The blos­som­ing plan from the House GOP is a deal that would fund the gov­ern­ment un­til Decem­ber 15 and raise the debt-lim­it un­til Feb­ru­ary 7, ac­cord­ing to Na­tion­al Re­view‘s Robert Costa. That plan would also in­clude the Vit­ter lan­guage that strips health-care sub­sidies from mem­bers of Con­gress, their staffs and cab­in­et of­fi­cials.

House Re­pub­lic­ans ex­pect enough Re­pub­lic­an mem­bers to sign onto the bill to as­sure its pas­sage in the House as soon as to­night.

And from there? Wait and see what the Sen­ate does. Up to this point, Sen­ate Demo­crats have not been very sup­port­ive of the Vit­ter plan. As Alex Seitz-Wald’s writes, the Vit­ter plan could pose real prob­lems for Con­gress. And, the Pres­id­ent for the Cen­ter for Budget and Policy Pri­or­it­ies writes, the pro­pos­al would make mem­bers of Con­gress and their staffs “the only work­ers in the United States whose em­ploy­er is barred by law from help­ing to cov­er their premi­ums.” (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (3:33 p.m.): Will House Vote on Bill To­night?

NBC’s Kelly O’Don­nell re­ports that the House is pre­par­ing to go to the Rules Com­mit­tee to pre­pare for vot­ing Tues­day night a bill that would raise the debt ceil­ing and re­open the gov­ern­ment. But the votes the le­gis­la­tion needs for pas­sage aren’t there yet, so Speak­er John Boehner is likely spend­ing the few hours be­fore a po­ten­tial vote whip­ping sup­port from some Re­pub­lic­ans, un­happy with an earli­er re­mov­al of lan­guage call­ing for a delay on the med­ic­al device tax, who are on the fence. (By Mar­ina Koren)

UP­DATE (3:14 p.m.): A Sen­ate Deal Lives?

From Bloomberg‘s Nich­olas John­ston:


— Nich­olas John­ston (@First­Word­Nick) Oc­to­ber 15, 2013

For now, at least, deals seem up-in-the-air in both cham­bers.

UP­DATE (3:07 p.m.): What Is Hap­pen­ing in the Sen­ate?

Yes­ter­day’s Sen­ate deal op­tim­ism is quickly turn­ing. This isn’t something you ever want to see with un­der two days to go un­til the U.S. hits the debt-lim­it:

Sen Collins: NO Sen­ate deal right now. Yest Re­id/Mc­Con­nell were “ex­tremely close. But now it ap­pears they don’t have an agree­ment”

— Su­zy Khimm (@Su­zyKhimm) Oc­to­ber 15, 2013

UP­DATE (2:53 p.m.): With­er the Deals?

Bloomberg is re­port­ing that Sen. Di­anne Fein­stein, D-Cal­if., be­lieves that the Sen­ate deal has “fallen apart.” Mean­while, on the oth­er side of the hill, Na­tion­al Re­view is re­port­ing that the House’s plan is now com­pletely up-in-the-air. Na­tion­al Re­view‘s Robert Costa be­lieves all fo­cus now is on the Vit­ter lan­guage and try­ing to find enough House votes for pas­sage, with the med­ic­al device tax delay no longer part of the plan.

The next hour, the last of the day while mar­kets re­main open, could prove to be quite hec­tic. (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (2:50 p.m.): There Goes the Dow

With about an hour to go be­fore mar­kets close, things on the Dow aren’t look­ing too swell. Here’s the Dow as of 2:45:

You can see the latest here. For some more con­text, here’s the Dow over the last 6 months. We’re not yet in any sort of real pan­ic:

UP­DATE (2:05 p.m.): House Plan Throws a Wrench In­to Sen­ate Ne­go­ti­ations

The House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship’s latest plan to re­open the gov­ern­ment and pre­vent a debt de­fault has stalled the Sen­ate talks, say law­makers, and promp­ted Demo­crat­ic lead­ers to shred the pro­pos­al on the floor. They cri­ti­cized on Tues­day a part of Speak­er John Boehner’s pro­pos­al that would lim­it the ex­traordin­ary means cur­rently avail­able to the Treas­ury. 

Read more here from Mi­chael Cata­lini and Elahe Iz­adi.

UP­DATE (1:04 p.m.): House Con­ser­vat­ives Iffy on New Plan

“I’m a ‘no,’” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas told Na­tion­al Journ­al. More here from Tim Al­berta and Billy House.

UP­DATE (1 p.m.): White House Op­tim­ist­ic About Sen­ate Plans, But Time Is Run­ning Out

The White House voiced cau­tious op­tim­ism about the on­go­ing Hill talks Tues­day. The pres­id­ent is pleased with the pro­gress in the Sen­ate, said press sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney, and the po­ten­tial is there for a solu­tion. Still, “we’re far from a deal in this point,” he said.

Car­ney re­fused to get in­to spe­cif­ic parts of the ne­go­ti­ations. He also de­clined to ex­press con­fid­ence that the votes are there for a com­prom­ise meas­ure. “We are very close to a very im­port­ant dead­line and time is of the es­sence,” he said. (By George Con­don)

UP­DATE (12:41 p.m.): House Re­pub­lic­ans Fire Back at Re­id

House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship is snip­ing back at Re­id’s char­ac­ter­iz­a­tion of the debt ceil­ing and CR pro­pos­al com­ing from their ranks. Boehner spokes­man Mi­chael Steel said in a state­ment, “Is Sen­at­or Re­id so blinded by par­tis­an­ship that he is will­ing to risk de­fault on our debt to pro­tect a ‘pace­maker tax’ that 34 Sen­ate Demo­crats are on the re­cord op­pos­ing, and he him­self called ‘stu­pid’?” (By Elahe Iz­ad)

UP­DATE: (12:23 p.m.): So, What Is the House GOP Pro­pos­al, Ex­actly?

Right now, it’s just a frame­work. After the plan leaked out this morn­ing (de­tails be­low), House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship is­sued a non­com­mit­tal state­ment on what ex­actly they are think­ing. Oth­er mem­bers back this up. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Geor­gia, ex­pli­citly called the plan a frame­work, and Rep. Mick Mul­vaney, R-S.C., told Na­tion­al Re­view that he ex­pects the bill to be “tweaked” be­fore it makes it to the Rules Com­mit­tee. One thing already sounds like it may be chan­ging: Ac­cord­ing to Robert Costa, the plan now would in­clude the full lan­guage of the Vit­ter amend­ment, mean­ing that health care sub­sidies would be stripped for mem­bers of Con­gress, cab­in­et ap­pointees AND their staffs. That lan­guage alone would likely doom the plan in the Sen­ate.

And, seem­ingly out-of-the-blue, CQ-Roll Call is re­port­ing that some House Re­pub­lic­ans are push­ing to add a meas­ure to the plan that would al­low em­ploy­ers to opt-out of provid­ing con­tra­cep­tion for their em­ploy­ees.

The bot­tom-line is that we don’t yet really know what the full plan will be, as it ap­pears that House lead­er­ship hasn’t quite de­cided yet. But that de­cision will have to come soon. (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (11:50 a.m.): Nancy Pelosi: I Don’t Know Who Boehner Is Talk­ing To

At a press con­fer­ence, House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi shot back against Boehner’s earli­er claim that he was speak­ing with House mem­bers on both sides of the aisle, say­ing that she doesn’t know what Demo­crats Boehner is talk­ing to.

Pelosi did say that she thought “we’d have every­one” from her caucus to vote for the Re­id/Mc­Con­nell plan.

“The whole world is watch­ing what hap­pens here,” Pelosi said, call­ing the House GOP plan “reck­less, ir­re­spons­ible, rad­ic­al.” The minor­ity lead­er, speak­ing of Boehner’s press state­ment, said that “she saw a speak­er that didn’t have the votes” for his plan.

Speak­ing with Pelosi, House Demo­crat­ic Whip Steny Hoy­er said that House Re­pub­lic­ans have man­aged to “snatch con­front­a­tion from the jaws of reas­on­able agree­ment.” (By Matt Ber­man and Elahe Iz­adi)

UP­DATE (11:35 a.m.): Harry Re­id: House GOP Plan a “Blatant At­tack on Bi­par­tis­an­ship”

On the Sen­ate floor be­fore noon, Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id bashed the House GOP plan. “It’s a plan to ad­vance an ex­treme piece of le­gis­la­tion,” Re­id said, “and it’s noth­ing more than a blatant at­tack on bi­par­tis­an­ship.” The ma­jor­ity lead­er said that the plan can’t and won’t pass the Sen­ate. 

Re­id said that House Re­pub­lic­ans would nev­er do this to Pres­id­ent Rom­ney, Pres­id­ent Bush, or Pres­id­ent Re­agan. “The tea party driv­en part of the Re­pub­lic­an party does not fol­low lo­gic.”

Re­pris­ing a theme, the ma­jor­ity lead­er said that he is “very dis­ap­poin­ted” with Speak­er Boehner. (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (11:12 a.m.): Speak­er Boehner: “There Have Been No De­cisions About What Ex­actly We Will Do”

At a Tues­day press state­ment after a long meet­ing, House GOP lead­er­ship said that they would con­tin­ue to work on a deal, but have no firm de­cisions about what they will do next.

“We are work­ing with our mem­bers on a way for­ward,” Speak­er Boehner said, call­ing the idea of de­fault “wrong.” He wouldn’t com­mit to much more though, just say­ing that lead­er­ship is work­ing with mem­bers in both parties to “find a way to move for­ward today.”

This of course doesn’t mean that the House plan that was leaked this morn­ing is already done, but with White House sup­port nonexistant and Sen­ate sup­port un­known, lead­er­ship isn’t ready to give a plan a pub­lic roll-out. (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (11:05 a.m.): White House Re­jects House GOP Plan as ‘Ransom’

A White House spokes­per­son made it clear that the House GOP’s new plan to raise the debt-lim­it and re­open the gov­ern­ment wouldn’t get White House sup­port. The spokes­per­son called the plan a “ransom,” and that the pro­pos­al is just a “par­tis­an at­tempt to ap­pease a small group of Tea Party Re­pub­lic­ans who forced the gov­ern­ment shut­down in the first place.”

So, un­less the House GOP plan man­ages to get veto-proof sup­port in the Sen­ate, it seems to be go­ing nowhere. (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (10:48 a.m.): House Demo­crat­ic Lead­er­ship Speaks

Or, well, tweets:

GOP’s latest plan is de­signed to tor­pedo the bi­par­tis­an Sen solu­tion. Plan is not only reck­less, it’s tan­tamount to de­fault.

— Chris Van Hol­len (@Chris­Van­Hol­len) Oc­to­ber 15, 2013

The House plan will likely need some Demo­crats to come on board in or­der to pass the House. Right now, that’s look­ing like it won’t be easy.

UP­DATE (10:13 a.m.): The Word From Harry Re­id

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id did not ac­know­ledge the House plan as he opened the Sen­ate today. In­stead, Re­id said he’s still op­tim­ist­ic that he and Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell will come to an agree­ment “this week” that would pre­vent de­fault and re­open gov­ern­ment. More on the emer­gin plan here

UP­DATE (10:06 a.m.): Can the New House GOP Plan Even Pass the House?

There are re­ports out this morn­ing that House GOP lead­er­ship isn’t plan­ning on whip­ping the new plan be­fore tak­ing it to the floor for a vote. The plan, in its heavy re­flec­tion of the Sen­ate plan, may not be enough for some House con­ser­vat­ives, and it cer­tainly may be too much for many Demo­crats.

So, even be­fore con­sid­er­ing wheth­er or not the new plan can make it in the Sen­ate, we’ll first have to see if it can sur­vive in the House.

House Re­pub­lic­ans are still meet­ing this morn­ing. Staff has re­cently been kicked out. (By Matt Ber­man)

UP­DATE (9:51 a.m.): Today’s Out­look in the House

The new House GOP plan is ex­pec­ted to go to the Rules Com­mit­tee this af­ter­noon, and should get a vote by to­night.

And then?

Hear­ing House may pass its bill and then skip town.

— Ramesh Pon­nuru (@Ramesh­Pon­nuru) Oc­to­ber 15, 2013

(By Tim Al­berta)

UP­DATE (9:39 a.m.): The New Plan From House Re­pub­lic­ans

House GOP lead­er­ship is look­ing to move their own bill today, re­ports Na­tion­al Re­view’s Robert Costa. That deal, which is ex­pec­ted to be un­veiled this morn­ing, would in­clude far more changes to Obama­care than the Sen­ate is cur­rently pro­pos­ing. The House GOP plan, ac­cord­ing to Costa, would match the Sen­ate by fund­ing the gov­ern­ment un­til Janu­ary 15, and rais­ing the debt-lim­it to Feb­ru­ary 7. The plan would also tight­en in­come veri­fic­a­tion, like the Sen­ate plan. But it di­verges from there.

The plan in­cludes a two-year med­ic­al device tax delay, and as­pects of Sen. Dav­id Vit­ter’s plan to strip health-care sub­sidies for mem­bers of Con­gress, and cab­in­et mem­bers. Un­like the ori­gin­al Vit­ter plan though, that the cur­rent re­por­ted plan wouldn’t im­pact sub­sidies for Con­gres­sion­al staff. None of this is likely to fly with Sen­ate Demo­crats.

The plan would also in­clude pro­vi­sions to strip the abil­ity of the Treas­ury to use “ex­traordin­ary meas­ures” to push back the debt-lim­it. Those moves by the Treas­ury delayed the debt-ceil­ing this time around from May 18 un­til just about now. Re­mov­ing this abil­ity makes any new debt-ceil­ing dead­line con­crete. Speak­er Boehner is ex­pec­ted to de­liv­er a state­ment to the press shortly. (By Matt Ber­man)

Matt Berman, Michael Catalini, Tim Alberta, Billy House, Elahe Izadi, Brian Resnick and Marina Koren contributed to this article.
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