What One GOP Leader Thinks Will Happen If the Senate Kills the House Budget Plan

The Senate almost definitely will knock down the plan, which delays Obamacare. Here’s what Rep. Kevin McCarthy thinks comes next.

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., center, walks to a Republican caucus at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. 
National Journal
Matt Berman
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Matt Berman
Sept. 29, 2013, 5:42 a.m.

Early Sunday morn­ing, the House passed a budget plan that delays Obama­care by a year, keeps the gov­ern­ment open, and al­most def­in­itely will not make it through the Sen­ate. If the House and Sen­ate can’t find a way to fund the gov­ern­ment by Monday night, the gov­ern­ment will shut down.

House Ma­jor­ity Whip Kev­in Mc­Carthy, R-Cal­if., didn’t give much hope for a res­ol­u­tion on Sunday morn­ing.

While Mc­Carthy kept up the idea that the Sen­ate ac­tu­ally could pass the House con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion on Fox News Sunday, he gave host Chris Wal­lace some an­swers about what he thinks will hap­pen if the Sen­ate sends the CR back to the House, without an Obama­care delay or a med­ic­al device tax re­peal. “I think the House will get back to­geth­er and in enough time send an­oth­er pro­vi­sion not to shut the gov­ern­ment down but to fund it,” Mc­Carthy said, “and it’ll have a few oth­er op­tions in there for the Sen­ate to look at again.”

Those “few oth­er op­tions” sug­gest that, at least right now, the House GOP lead­er­ship is not con­sid­er­ing passing a “clean” CR — a plan that funds the gov­ern­ment and doesn’t touch Obama­care or any­thing else. If the Sen­ate knocks down the House CR, Mc­Carthy said, the House will pass a bill on Monday “that will keep the gov­ern­ment open, that will re­flect the House, that I be­lieve the Sen­ate can ac­cept. That will have fun­da­ment­al changes in­to Obama­care that will pro­tect the eco­nomy for Amer­ica.”

Those “fun­da­ment­al changes” have a few ob­vi­ous pos­sib­il­it­ies. The House could pass a CR that in­cludes just a med­ic­al device tax re­peal, or an in­di­vidu­al-man­date delay. Or, as Na­tion­al Re­view‘s Robert Costa re­por­ted on Sat­urday, it could in­clude a ver­sion of the Vit­ter amend­ment, which would elim­in­ate health care sub­sidies for mem­bers of Con­gress, their staff, and mem­bers of the ex­ec­ut­ive branch.

Right now, it’s hard to see how a House CR that in­cludes any of these pro­vi­sions could hold off a gov­ern­ment shut­down. The Sen­ate and White House are vir­tu­ally sure to re­fuse a CR that in­cludes an in­di­vidu­al man­date delay, and a med­ic­al device tax re­peal — which would cost $29 bil­lion over a dec­ade ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice — could be a tough climb there as well.

It’s not even clear that these “fun­da­ment­al changes” would be able to get through the House, as power­ful con­ser­vat­ive groups like Her­it­age Ac­tion are already com­ing out and say­ing that they wouldn’t sup­port something like a med­ic­al device tax re­peal, as it would “do noth­ing to pre­vent the law’s en­ti­tle­ments from tak­ing root and con­tin­ues fund­ing Obama­care in its en­tirety.”

Mc­Carthy did leave the door open for a pos­sible short-term CR that would pre­vent the gov­ern­ment from shut­ting down come Oct. 1, if only for a few days. “We will not shut the gov­ern­ment down,” Mc­Carthy said. “If we need to ne­go­ti­ate a little longer, we will ne­go­ti­ate.”

We’ll see how that works out, or if that’s, again, something that could even make it through the House. Right now, the odds of a shut­down are look­ing pretty good.

Cor­rec­tion: A pre­vi­ous ver­sion of this story mis­stated when the House votes oc­cured. They happened early Sunday morn­ing.

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