McConnell Rejects Cruz Solution in Fiscal Fight

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, center, speaks at a news conference with conservative Congressional Republicans who persuaded the House leadership to include defunding the Affordable Care Act legislation to prevent a government shutdown, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. He is joined by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, far right, and Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., second from right.
National Journal
Billy House and Michael Catalini
Add to Briefcase
Billy House Michael Catalini
Sept. 23, 2013, 4:58 p.m.

Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell has re­jec­ted Sen. Ted Cruz’s ap­proach to de­fund­ing Obama­care as the Sen­ate steers to­ward a week­end show­down over a tem­por­ary meas­ure to keep the gov­ern­ment run­ning.

Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, are push­ing for Re­pub­lic­ans to vote against end­ing de­bate on a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion from the House that will ex­tend fund­ing for the gov­ern­ment but de­fund the Af­ford­able Care Act. Their strategy is to de­prive Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id of the abil­ity to strip out the Obama­care lan­guage.

“Sen­at­or Mc­Con­nell sup­ports the House Re­pub­lic­ans’ bill and will not vote to block it, since it de­funds Obama­care and funds the gov­ern­ment without in­creas­ing spend­ing by a penny,” Mc­Con­nell’s of­fice said in a state­ment late Monday. “He will also vote against any amend­ment that at­tempts to add Obama­care fund­ing back in­to the House Re­pub­lic­ans’ bill.”

Mc­Con­nell’s state­ment helped settle a nag­ging ques­tion for some Re­pub­lic­ans: Do they vote against end­ing de­bate on the House con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion — thereby vot­ing against le­gis­la­tion they sup­port — or vote in fa­vor of clo­ture, set­ting up an op­por­tun­ity for Re­id to strip the de­fund­ing lan­guage?

Cruz, the ar­chi­tect of a plan to shut­ter the gov­ern­ment un­less Obama­care is de­fun­ded, has pledged to do any­thing pos­sible to block a House bill that doesn’t con­tain lan­guage to de­fund Obama­care, even though the Texas Re­pub­lic­an and his party do not have the votes. How many Re­pub­lic­ans side with Cruz and Lee isn’t clear.

Re­pub­lic­ans such as Sens. John Mc­Cain of Ari­zona, Bob Cork­er of Ten­ness­ee, Tom Coburn of Ok­lahoma, and Richard Burr of North Car­o­lina, have pub­licly cri­ti­cized the strategy. Sen­ate Demo­crats say they count 24 Re­pub­lic­ans crit­ic­al of the duo’s tac­tics.

Mean­while, Cap­it­ol Hill den­iz­ens will be pre­par­ing to work this week­end as the Sen­ate halt­ingly throttles to­ward a vote to fund the gov­ern­ment bey­ond the end of the fisc­al year Sept. 30 and in­to Decem­ber.

The Sen­ate could vote on a pro­ced­ur­al mo­tion to con­sider the House bill as soon as Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to a Demo­crat­ic aide. That sets up an­oth­er pro­ced­ur­al vote to end de­bate on the bill, likely on Sat­urday. At that point, Re­id will in­tro­duce an amend­ment to strip out the Obama­care lan­guage. The Demo­crat­ic think­ing as­sumes that Re­id will get 60 votes to end de­bate, thereby block­ing Cruz, and would move the le­gis­la­tion back to the House on Sat­urday or Sunday.

Re­id filed the mo­tion to pro­ceed on Monday and said the tim­ing of the first vote is now “on auto­pi­lot,” so the latest it will oc­cur is noon Wed­nes­day, though it could be moved up an hour or two if a ma­jor­ity agrees.

Cruz de­clined to say wheth­er he would take up all the time al­lot­ted for de­bate.

On the ques­tion of the top-line fund­ing level con­tained in the CR — an­oth­er stick­ing point between Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans — Sen­ate Demo­crat­ic aides ac­know­ledge that the House’s $986 bil­lion fig­ure is likely to stand and that Sen­ate Demo­crats don’t have the votes to force their pref­er­ence, a $1.058 tril­lion level.

The le­gis­lat­ive jock­ey­ing to keep the gov­ern­ment fun­ded is not the only place in which par­tis­an po­s­i­tions over the Af­ford­able Care Act are on dis­play. On Tues­day, a sim­il­ar line in the sand will be form­ally drawn by House Re­pub­lic­ans in re­turn for keep­ing the na­tion out of de­fault and able to con­tin­ue bor­row­ing.

A debt-ceil­ing bill will be filed Tues­day with the House Rules Com­mit­tee and pub­licly pos­ted, set­ting up a timetable that would en­able the House to vote on the meas­ure as early as Fri­day. House mem­bers are set to ar­rive back in Wash­ing­ton on Wed­nes­day.

The na­tion’s $16.7 tril­lion bor­row­ing lim­it will not re­quire an ex­ten­sion un­til mid-Oc­to­ber, ac­cord­ing to Treas­ury. But for some Re­pub­lic­ans — in­clud­ing top House lead­ers — a debt-ceil­ing bill is a bet­ter av­en­ue for mak­ing de­mands than the CR cur­rently be­fore the Sen­ate.

As de­scribed by House Re­pub­lic­ans and aides, the bill would sus­pend the United States bor­row­ing lim­it un­til Decem­ber 2014, rather than rais­ing it by a spe­cif­ic amount. The bill will also con­tain a bevy of oth­er Re­pub­lic­an meas­ures, in­clud­ing one that would delay the im­ple­ment­a­tion of Obama­care by a year. Oth­ers in­clude lan­guage to redo the U.S. tax code, in­crease means-test­ing for Medi­care, au­thor­ize the build­ing of the Key­stone XL pipeline, and pro­mote en­ergy pro­duc­tion off­shore and on fed­er­al lands.

Pres­id­ent Obama and con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats, mean­while, have said they will not ne­go­ti­ate over the need for the na­tion to pay its bills.

Obama is likely to meet with con­gres­sion­al lead­ers this week after he re­turns from New York City, where he is ad­dress­ing the United Na­tions Gen­er­al As­sembly, White House press sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney said Monday.

“Here’s the bot­tom line,” Car­ney said. “Con­gress needs to act re­spons­ibly in or­der to en­sure that the gov­ern­ment does not shut down. Un­for­tu­nately, the House ac­ted ir­re­spons­ibly as an open­ing salvo in this en­gage­ment by passing a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion that has no chance of be­com­ing law. And now we’ll have to see how this plays out.”

What We're Following See More »
“HIGHLY UNLIKELY,” BUT CAN’T IGNORE POSSIBILITY
Hawaii Prepares for Possible N. Korea Missile Threat
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Hawaii is the first state to prepare the public for the possibility of a ballistic missile strike from North Korea. The state's Emergency Management Agency on Friday announced a public education campaign about what to do. Hawaii lawmakers have been urging emergency management officials to update Cold War-era plans for coping with a nuclear attack as North Korea develops nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can reach the islands."

Source:
OBAMA’S ELECTION DAY PLAN
Previously Undisclosed Plan to Counter Russian Hacking
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Obama’s White House quietly produced a plan in October to counter a possible Election Day cyber attack that included extraordinary measures like sending armed federal law enforcement agents to polling places, mobilizing components of the military and launching counter-propaganda efforts. The 15-page plan, a copy of which was obtained by TIME, stipulates that “in almost all potential cases of malicious cyber activity impacting election infrastructure, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments” would have primary jurisdiction to respond."

Source:
FELLOW NEW YORKER
Trump Reportedly Considering Nominating Giuliani for AG
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"In internal conversations, Trump has recently pondered the idea of nominating Giuliani, a stalwart of his campaign. Even before last week's blast at Sessions in a New York Times interview, Trump had expressed fury at Sessions...for recusing himself from the Russia investigation."

Source:
LEGAL TEAM EXPANDING
DC-Based Attorney Added to Don Jr.’s Legal Team
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump Jr.'s legal team is expanding its operation, bringing on D.C.-based attorney and longtime regulatory lawyer Karina Lynch, his team told ABC News. Lynch also confirmed to ABC News that she is joining the team. Donald Trump Jr. is one of the people connected to the Trump administration whom the Senate Judiciary Committee has said it wants to interview as part of its investigation into possible Russian involvement in the 2016 election."

Source:
SCHEDULED TO TESTIFY BEFORE SENATE
Kushner: “Did Not Collude” With Foreign Governments
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner in a statement released early Monday denied colluding with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. 'I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,' Kushner, who is also President Trump's son-in-law, said in prepared remarks to congressional investigators probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 'I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.' Kushner is scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed hearing on Monday."

Source:
×
×

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