Reid and McConnell Take the Reins

The Senate leaders are trying—for the first time together—to reach a deal to open government and extend the debt ceiling.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (L) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speak during a ceremony to celebrate the life Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former South Africa President Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his 95th birthday in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center July 18, 2013 in Washington, DC. July 18 is Nelson Mandela Day, during which people are asked to give 67 minutes of time to charity and service in their community to honor the 67 years Mandela gave to public service. Mandela was admitted to a South African hospital June 8 where he is being treated for a recurring lung infection.
National Journal
Michael Catalin
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Michael Catalin
Oct. 12, 2013, 10:16 a.m.

With talks between GOP House lead­er­ship and the White House over re­open­ing gov­ern­ment and ex­tend­ing the debt lim­it broken down, Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic and Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers are now for the first time dis­cuss­ing a path bey­ond the im­passe.

With the bless­ing of their mem­bers, Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id and Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell began talk­ing in the last 24 hours to try to work out a deal that could also pass the House.

Sen­ate Demo­crats re­jec­ted a plan modeled on Sen. Susan Collins’ sug­ges­tion, which re­cently gained mo­mentum in the Sen­ate and in­cluded a six-month con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion to fund gov­ern­ment and a three-month debt lim­it ex­ten­sion. Her plan would also have delayed for two years the med­ic­al device tax used in part to fund Obama­care.

Rather, the con­tours of the de­bate seem to be tak­ing shape around the length of the con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion and debt lim­it ex­ten­sion, and on what Obama­care con­ces­sion Re­pub­lic­ans might ex­tract.

Demo­crats chafe at a short-term debt lim­it ex­ten­sion be­cause it would mean an­oth­er fisc­al fight in the heart of the hol­i­day buy­ing sea­son. They also ar­gue for a short­er CR so they can rene­go­ti­ate the topline spend­ing fig­ures and undo se­quest­ra­tion, which they view as harm­ful.

Re­pub­lic­ans, on the oth­er hand, want a short­er ex­ten­sion so they can pivot from this crisis, which has proved polit­ic­ally costly to them, to dis­cuss spend­ing cuts, en­ti­tle­ment re­form and tax re­form. They also want a longer con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion, which would lock in the se­quest­ra­tion cuts gained in the 2011 Budget Con­trol Act.

Des­pite the dis­agree­ments, there’s cau­tious op­tim­ism, now that Re­id and Mc­Con­nell are talk­ing.

“There’s such a uni­verse of pos­sib­il­it­ies out there but we haven’t quite agreed on a spe­cif­ic set,” As­sist­ant Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said.

Also on Sat­urday, Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans blocked Re­id’s debt-lim­it ex­ten­sion meas­ure in a pro­ced­ur­al vote, 53-45, along party lines. Re­id voted against his bill for par­lia­ment­ary reas­ons. The ex­ten­sion would have taken the gov­ern­ment through the Novem­ber 2014.

There was little in­cent­ive for Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors to vote with the ma­jor­ity to ad­vance the Demo­crat­ic pro­pos­al now that the lead­ers are dis­cuss­ing a path for­ward.

But the vote gave sen­at­ors an op­por­tun­ity to fur­ther their talks as mem­bers frat­ern­ized on the Sen­ate floor. For ex­ample, Mc­Con­nell and Sen. Chuck Schu­mer, D-N.Y., the No. 3 Sen­ate Demo­crat, sat huddled to­geth­er talk­ing throughout much of the vote.

The talks between Re­id, Mc­Con­nell, Schu­mer and Sen. Lamar Al­ex­an­der, R-Tenn., opened Sat­urday morn­ing, with Re­id de­scrib­ing the con­ver­sa­tions as “ex­tremely cor­di­al,” and pre­lim­in­ary.

Sen­at­ors also re­cog­nized that whatever the deal is it will need to clear the House, which has been un­able to of­fer le­gis­la­tion ac­cept­able to the Sen­ate and the White House. But some Sen­ate Demo­crats also said they are fed up with House Speak­er John Boehner.

“At this point, they have dealt them­selves out of this pro­cess,” Durbin said. “They can­not agree among them­selves and that makes it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to take them ser­i­ously.”

Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans soun­ded op­tim­ist­ic Sat­urday that such a deal was with­in reach and also real­ized the House would have little time to act giv­en the Oct. 17 debt lim­it dead­line.

“Hope­fully we’re not wast­ing our time send­ing le­gis­la­tion that the House wouldn’t ac­cept,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

What We're Following See More »
WITH LIVE BLOGGING
Trump Deposition Video Is Online
16 hours ago
STAFF PICKS

The video of Donald Trump's deposition in his case against restaurateur Jeffrey Zakarian is now live. Slate's Jim Newell and Josh Voorhees are live-blogging it while they watch.

Source:
SOUND LEVEL AFFECTED
Debate Commission Admits Issues with Trump’s Mic
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Commission on Presidential Debates put out a statement today that gives credence to Donald Trump's claims that he had a bad microphone on Monday night. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," read the statement in its entirety.

Source:
TRUMP VS. CHEFS
Trump Deposition Video to Be Released
18 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos is set to go public" as soon as today. "Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel. D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video."

Source:
A CANDIDATE TO BE ‘PROUD’ OF
Chicago Tribune Endorses Gary Johnson
21 hours ago
THE LATEST

No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."

NEVER TRUMP
USA Today Weighs in on Presidential Race for First Time Ever
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump." That's the message from USA Today editors, who are making the first recommendation on a presidential race in the paper's 34-year history. It's not exactly an endorsement; they make clear that the editorial board "does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement." But they state flatly that Donald Trump is, by "unanimous consensus of the editorial board, unfit for the presidency."

Source:
×