Senate Leaders Express Optimism That They Are Nearing Agreement

Obama speaks about the economy on July 11, 2011.
National Journal
Elahe Izad and Billy House
Add to Briefcase
Elahe Izad Billy House
Oct. 14, 2013, 8:30 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama and con­gres­sion­al lead­ers ab­ruptly post­poned a planned Monday af­ter­noon meet­ing as the top Sen­ate Demo­crat and Re­pub­lic­an re­por­ted mu­tu­al op­tim­ism to be­ing close to a deal on lift­ing the debt ceil­ing and re­open­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.

Just three days re­main un­til Thursday’s dead­line for the gov­ern­ment to run out of au­thor­ity to bor­row money. The mar­kets briefly jumped after Sen­ate lead­ers said they were op­tim­ist­ic a deal was near, with the Dow Jones spik­ing by about 30 points.

Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers who were set to at­tend the 3 p.m. Monday meet­ing at the White House — an­nounced earli­er in the day — in­cluded Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id and Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, along with House Speak­er John Boehner and Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi.

But both Re­id and Mc­Con­nell made short state­ments an hour be­fore the White House meet­ing was set to be­gin, say­ing they are very hope­ful.

“I am very op­tim­ist­ic we will reach an agree­ment this week,” Re­id said.

And Mc­Con­nell said that over the past couple of days, “[we’ve had] a very con­struct­ive ex­change of views. Those dis­cus­sions con­tin­ue, and I share his op­tim­ism we’re go­ing to get an agree­ment in a reas­on­able peri­od of time.”

The White House con­firmed the meet­ing delay in or­der “to al­low lead­ers in the Sen­ate time to con­tin­ue mak­ing im­port­ant pro­gress to­wards a solu­tion that raises the debt lim­it and re­opens the gov­ern­ment.” But Sen­ate aides and the White House provided no in­dic­a­tion of when it may be res­ched­uled.

Re­id vis­ited Mc­Con­nell’s of­fice mul­tiple times Monday, with the hopes of ham­mer­ing out an agree­ment ahead of the af­ter­noon White House meet­ing.

“They are in­volved in good faith ne­go­ti­ations, and those talks will con­tin­ue,” says Mc­Con­nell spokes­man Don Stew­art.

Mc­Con­nell said they’ve had “a couple of very use­ful dis­cus­sions.”

Ac­cord­ing to a White House of­fi­cial, Obama had in­ten­ded at the meet­ing to “[make] clear the need for Con­gress to act to pay our bills, and re­open the gov­ern­ment,” and that he also said he would “re­it­er­ate our prin­ciples to the lead­ers: We will not pay a ransom for Con­gress re­open­ing the gov­ern­ment and rais­ing the debt lim­it.”

Monday in­cluded a num­ber of huddles that took place in the Cap­it­ol. A bi­par­tis­an group of 12 sen­at­ors met at 9 a.m., in­clud­ing Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., ac­cord­ing to a Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic aide.

The meet­ing was part of con­tin­ued ne­go­ti­ations around a plan presen­ted by Collins to fund the gov­ern­ment for six months at an an­nu­al­ized se­quester-level rate of $986 bil­lion. It would also ex­tend the debt ceil­ing through Jan. 31, 2014, and dir­ect an im­me­di­ate Sen­ate and House con­fer­ence on a budget, with con­fer­ees re­quired to re­port by Jan. 15.

The plan pro­posed by Collins also would delay the 2.3 per­cent med­ic­al-device ex­cise tax for two years. To off­set the cost of re­peal­ing that tax es­tab­lished by the Af­ford­able Care Act on such things as pace­makers and de­fib­ril­lat­ors, the plan would ex­tend “pen­sion smooth­ing” pro­vi­sions passed in 2012 as part of a fed­er­al high­way bill.

In ad­di­tion, the plan presen­ted by Collins also in­cluded in­come-veri­fic­a­tion pro­vi­sions so that only eli­gible in­di­vidu­als re­ceive sub­sidies un­der the new in­sur­ance ex­changes. And it would provide fed­er­al agen­cies with flex­ib­il­ity to mit­ig­ate the im­pact of the se­quester cuts, with over­sight of those moves by the House and Sen­ate com­mit­tees of jur­is­dic­tion. 

Collins, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans met with Mc­Con­nell later in the morn­ing. “The fo­cus is on the lead­er­ship right now,” Collins said.

“We had a good meet­ing with Sen­at­or Mc­Con­nell, and it’s clear every­body is work­ing really hard to try and get to a solu­tion,” Collins ad­ded.

After Re­id met with Mc­Con­nell, Sens. Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., An­gus King, I-Maine, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., met with Re­id in Re­id’s of­fice. The sen­at­ors de­clined to give many de­tails of the con­ver­sa­tion, but soun­ded an op­tim­ist­ic note on the status of ne­go­ti­ations. Manchin de­scribed them as “very en­cour­aging.”

All eyes re­main on lead­er­ship in the Sen­ate. Manchin de­scribed bi­par­tis­an ef­forts by him­self, Collins, and oth­ers as “a con­tri­bu­tion” to the talks in pro­gress between Mc­Con­nell and Re­id. A fi­nal agree­ment could come as soon as Monday af­ter­noon or even­ing. “I think they’re close, I think they could,” Manchin said. “It’s just a mat­ter of pro­ced­ure, when we vote and what we do.”

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP’S ATTORNEY WAS SET TO TESTIFY ON WEDNESDAY
Senate Intel Postpones Testimony by Cohen
2 days ago
THE LATEST
AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED CONSIDERATION
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Source:
INTERVIEWED BY COMMITTEE STAFF
Lewandowski Meets with Senate Intelligence Committee
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."

Source:
FISHING EXPEDITION
Some Members Seek to Wrap Up Russia Investigations by Year’s End
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."

Source:
WROTE LAW THAT WEAKENED OPIOID OVERSIGHT
Trump: Marino Withdrawing Nomination for Drug Czar
5 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

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