Senate Republicans emerged from a more than 90-minute meeting with President Obama on Friday more bullish than they have been in recent days on the chances to end the government shutdown, now in its eleventh day, and avoid breaching the nation’s debt limit next week.
In the meeting, lawmakers said that Sen. Susan Collins, the moderate Republican from Maine, presented to Obama a plan that would lift the debt limit until the end of January and keep the government operating for six months. Lawmakers would then use that time to craft a broader fiscal agreement.
“He seems open to some of the suggestions that I made,” Collins said.
Her package, as presented, would also include the rolling back of a tax on medical devices that helps fund the president’s health care law. Obama did not embrace the package but numerous Republicans, including Collins, said the conversation was “constructive.”
Other Republican senators have suggested different lengths of time for both the debt limit and government operations, but they broadly agreed that talks were on track toward a solution, perhaps for the first time since the crisis began.
“I think we’re on a pretty good course right now ““ I do,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., after the meeting.
Broadly speaking, multiple Republicans said they were encouraged the negotiations had shifted from dismantling the health care law to addressing fiscal matters.
“He feels very strongly about the Affordable Care Act,” said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb, “and he’s not going to give on that.”
Instead, Republicans hope to use the short-term debt-limit increase to negotiate a broader package of changes to entitlement programs.
Traps remain. Collins noted that Obama ““ who has declared definitively that he refuses to negotiate over reopening the government and lifting the debt limit ““ seemed reticent to package those items with anything else.
“It seems to be one of timing for him,” Collins said. “The problem is if you don’t put it all together in one plan I don’t know that we will be able to get sufficient support to reopen government and to extend the debt limit. That’s why I think it’s better to combine them in one plan.”
Not all Republicans were encouraged. “I’m not sure that it had any major material effect one way or the other,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
And Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, was hardly positive. In a prepared statement, he said “what could have been a productive conversation was instead another predictable lecture from the president that did not lay out a new path forward.”
- 1 Hillary Clinton Will Win the Nomination, But Then What?
- 2 Would Obama’s Paid Sick Leave Proposal Actually Work? Look to San Francisco.
- 3 Do Republicans Believe in Global Warming? Not if They’re in the Tea Party
- 4 In the Iowa caucuses, look for results that surprise you
- 5 Paul Ryan Would Be the Most Conservative House Speaker in Recent History
What We're Following See More »
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.