House Republicans are planning a short-term debt-limit increase that will last six weeks without asking for any specific policy concessions in return, a plan that was panned by some conservatives but seems to have majority support within the conference.
The only condition of passing the bill, lawmakers said following Thursday morning’s GOP conference meeting, is getting a verbal agreement from President Obama to appoint budget conferees for a working group that will negotiate long-term fiscal issues during that six-week period. House leadership is meeting with Obama at the White House on Thursday afternoon to discuss the plan.
“What we want to do is offer the president today the ability to move a temporary increase in the debt ceiling, an agreement to go to conference on the budget, for his willingness to sit down and discuss with us a way forward to reopen the government and to start to deal with America’s pressing problems,” said Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
“And I would hope the president would look at this as an opportunity, and a good-faith effort on our part to move halfway — halfway to what he’s demanded — in order to have these conversations begin,” Boehner said.
There will be no specific language attached to the bill mandating any negotiating framework from the White House. “It’s just a handshake,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-La.
If Obama agrees, Republicans plan to bring the bill to the House floor as early as Friday or Saturday for a vote.
Many House Republicans in recent days have dismissed next Thursday’s deadline for the nation reaching its borrowing limit as less than a real fiscal doomsday. But this week, pressure began to build from some of their traditional conservative allies outside of Congress, including the Heritage Foundation, to push for a debt-ceiling extension that will buy Republicans time to continuing fighting Obamacare in the battle over government funding.
The White House has made it known that Obama would sign the short-term increase if passed by the House. But an Obama administration official preempted the House plan Thursday morning with an email sent to reporters, saying Obama would only agree to fiscal negotiations once the debt limit is lifted and the government is reopened with a short-term funding bill.
Of course, whipping sufficient Republican support for a clean continuing resolution on top of a clean debt-limit extension would likely prove impossible, considering how some conservatives are already panning the debt-ceiling deal.
“I’m not very enthusiastic,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said after learning of the GOP strategy.
Still, some conservatives praised Boehner for presenting the plan, which they framed as a “compromise” to bring Obama to the negotiating table.
“Most conservatives have said that they wouldn’t vote for a clean debt ceiling, and we’re saying we’ll give him a clean debt ceiling for six weeks so he can negotiate on the issues dealing with the debt,” said Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho. “But when it comes to the continuing resolution — to the issues dealing with Obamacare — we’re going to continue to hold out ground.”
Many House Republicans have sworn never to support a clean debt-ceiling extension, no matter the length, because of the precedent it would set. But some members argued that because the plan won’t be voted on until Obama agrees to negotiating guidelines, it isn’t technically a “clean” increase.
“It only goes forward if the president agrees to appoint budget conferees, and agrees to come to the table to negotiate the reopening [of government] as well as a debt-ceiling solution,” said Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas. “I wouldn’t term it ‘clean.’ “
The debt-limit extension would not directly address restarting government funding, or the ongoing shutdown. But top House Republican leaders were to meet on that topic later in the day Thursday.
What We're Following See More »
"A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel coming near it in the Persian Gulf. The incident happened Monday as the vessel closed to within 1,000 meters of the USS Mahan, "despite the destroyer trying to turn away from it." After attempting to contact the Iranian vessel and sounding its whistle, it deployed the flare. After that, the ship had had enough and turned away.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick Tuesday blocked the Trump administration from enforcing part of an executive order calling for the end of federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities. The decision was followed by a scathing rebuke from the White House, a precedent-breaking activity which with this White House has had no qualms. A White House statement called the decision an "egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge." The statement was followed by an inaccurate Wednesday morning tweetstorm from Trump, which railed against the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. While Judge Orrick's district falls within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, Orrick himself does not serve on the Ninth Circuit.
"House Republicans are circulating the text of an amendment to their ObamaCare replacement bill that they believe could bring many conservatives on board. According to legislative text of the amendment," drafted by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), "the measure would allow states to apply for waivers to repeal one of ObamaCare’s core protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Conservatives argue the provision drives up premiums for healthy people, but Democrats—and many more moderate Republicans—warn it would spark a return to the days when insurance companies could charge sick people exorbitantly high premiums."
President Trump on Wednesday "will order a review of national monuments created over the past 20 years with an aim toward rescinding or resizing some of them—part of a broader push to reopen areas to drilling, mining, and other development." Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters on Tuesday said he'd be reviewing about 30 monuments.
"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."