House Republicans to Caucus on Impending Budget Crunch

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the House GOP leadership meet with small business leaders at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.
National Journal
Billy House
See more stories about...
Billy House
Sept. 17, 2013, 6:08 p.m.

House Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers, thrash­ing around to find some con­sensus in their party on how to keep the gov­ern­ment op­er­at­ing bey­ond the end of the month, head in­to a pivotal closed-door meet­ing with mem­bers Wed­nes­day morn­ing to pitch op­tions.

One of their pro­pos­als, ac­cord­ing to House GOP sources, will be to al­low the House to vote as early as Fri­day on a meas­ure that would keep the gov­ern­ment fun­ded past the end of the cur­rent fisc­al year on Sept. 30 — and through Dec. 15 — but would also in­clude a pro­vi­sion to delay or de­fund Pres­id­ent Obama’s na­tion­al health care pro­gram.

However, be­cause Demo­crats in both the House and Sen­ate have said they will flatly re­ject that plan, House Speak­er John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor, R-Va., will also lay out some fall­back op­tions for mem­bers who won’t back down in their quest to end Obama­care.

Those are likely to in­clude link­ing a bill to de­fund the health care law to the up­com­ing debt-ceil­ing fight. The Treas­ury De­part­ment pro­jects that the gov­ern­ment will reach its cur­rent $16.7 tril­lion bor­row­ing lim­it in mid-Oc­to­ber.

The threat of a de­fault is seen as po­ten­tially a bet­ter av­en­ue of lever­age against Obama­care — and one that does not risk a gov­ern­ment shut­down and the po­ten­tial res­ult­ing pub­lic back­lash. “I think the [best] play is in the debt ceil­ing — be­cause there’s no shut­down,” said Rep. John Flem­ing, R-La.

De­tails of the ap­proach, in­clud­ing how much Re­pub­lic­ans would be will­ing to raise the debt ceil­ing in re­turn for cuts in Obama­care, were not settled on Tues­day.

“No de­cisions have been made, or will be made, un­til House Re­pub­lic­an mem­bers meet and talk to­mor­row,” Boehner spokes­man Mi­chael Steel said Tues­day.

Word that Boehner will likely of­fer a vote on de­fund­ing Obama­care as part of a meas­ure that would con­tin­ue gov­ern­ment spend­ing through Dec. 15 at an an­nu­al­ized rate of $986.3 bil­lion — just un­der the cur­rent level and with the se­quest­ra­tion cuts in­cluded — ap­pears to be a re­cog­ni­tion that con­ser­vat­ives have be­come more uni­fied in their de­mands.

What hap­pens if the House passes such a bill is any­one’s guess. One House lead­er­ship aide said the meas­ure likely would be re­vised in the Sen­ate and stripped of at least the Obama­care pro­vi­sions, then sent back to the House. There also could be a back-and-forth on the fund­ing level. “Get the ping-pong rack­ets out,” the aide re­marked.

As of Tues­day, nearly one-third of the 233 mem­bers of the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence — 70 in all — had signed on to a bill that would fund most gov­ern­ment func­tions through fisc­al 2014 at a post-se­quester level of $967.4 bil­lion. The meas­ure would do so only on the con­di­tion that full im­ple­ment­a­tion of the health care law was delayed un­til 2015.

The op­tion to be floated will some­what re­flect that bill, au­thored by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., though it would only con­tin­ue fund­ing the gov­ern­ment un­til Dec. 15. That could al­low more ne­go­ti­at­ing time on a lar­ger om­ni­bus pack­age for the rest of the fisc­al year that be­gins Oct. 1. But any ma­jor break by the lead­ers away from oth­er as­pects of the Graves pro­pos­al now em­braced openly by so many con­ser­vat­ives could leave them sig­ni­fic­antly short of votes to pass what they want.

More cer­tain is that House Demo­crats — a source of votes that Boehner and Can­tor might con­ceiv­ably be able to tap to pass a bill and pre­vent a shut­down — are de­term­ined to re­ject any lan­guage that tar­gets Obama­care.

Some Demo­crat­ic lead­ers, in­clud­ing House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi of Cali­for­nia, have opened the door to pos­sibly ac­cept­ing a so-called “clean” con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion for just a few weeks that would main­tain the cur­rent post-se­quest­ra­tion $986.3 bil­lion level — provided the Obama­care-delay lan­guage was stricken.

But oth­er Demo­crats would not go along. House Minor­ity Whip Steny Hoy­er, D-Md., on Tues­day re­it­er­ated to re­port­ers that he would vote against a CR that con­tained the Re­pub­lic­ans’ bot­tom line, say­ing that it really rep­res­ents “no com­prom­ise” on the part of the ma­jor­ity party.

Hoy­er went on to say that the GOP plan main­tains se­quest­ra­tion cuts and that House Re­pub­lic­ans should be forced to move closer to the topline fig­ure be­ing pro­posed by Sen­ate Demo­crats in their 2014 ap­pro­pri­ations bills: $1.058 tril­lion, which would re­flect Demo­crat­ic calls for a re­peal of se­quest­ra­tion.

“I’ve made it pretty clear; I think we’re go­ing to have a fight. I think we ought to have the fight now rather than later,” Hoy­er told re­port­ers when asked if he’d hold that po­s­i­tion even at the risk of a gov­ern­ment shut­down.

“I don’t think the length of the CR is the key. I have not seen any Re­pub­lic­an flex­ib­il­ity over the last two-and-a-half years. I have no reas­on to be­lieve there would be 14 days from now,” said Hoy­er. He ad­ded that he be­lieves the short­er the length of the CR, “the more un­der­min­ing the con­fid­ence, the more dis­rup­tion of the eco­nomy, the more trau­mat­ic to people work­ing for the gov­ern­ment, work­ing with the gov­ern­ment, con­tract­ors, sub­con­tract­ors.”

Mean­while, as Re­pub­lic­ans pre­pared to meet Wed­nes­day, even key com­mit­tee lead­ers such as House Ap­pro­pri­ations Chair­man Har­old Ro­gers, R-Ky., said they wer­en’t sure what ex­actly Boehner and Can­tor would pro­pose. “I think they’ve got some ideas “¦ and hope­fully someone will pull a rab­bit out of the hat,” said House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair­man Buck McK­eon, R-Cal­if.

What We're Following See More »
CALIFORNIA VOTES IN A WEEK
Jerry Brown Backs Clinton
20 minutes ago
THE LATEST

California Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Hillary Clinton today, calling her "the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump." While praising Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign, Brown said "Clinton’s lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown – by millions of votes – that they want her as their nominee. ... This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun."

Source:
GLASS CEILING STILL HARD TO CRACK
Clinton Says Voters Still Hung Up on Gender
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a New York Magazine profile, Hillary Clinton said she still encounters misogyny at her own events: “‘I really admire you, I really like you, I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president.’ I mean, they come to my events and then they say that to me.”

Source:
CHANGE WE CAN’T BELIEVE IN
Trump Vows Not to Change
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
Source:
FILING DEADLINE IS JUNE 24
McConnell Urging Rubio to Run for Reelection
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "One of the things that I’m hoping, I and my colleagues have been trying to convince Senator Marco Rubio to run again in Florida. He had indicated he was not going to, but we’re all hoping that he’ll reconsider, because poll data indicates that he is the one who can win for us. He would not only save a terrific senator for the Senate, but help save the majority. ... Well, I hope so. We’re all lobbying hard for him to run again."

Source:
LEAKER SHOULD STILL STAND TRIAL
Holder: Snowden Performed a Public Service
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Former Attorney General Eric Holder said that NSA leaker Edward Snowden "actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made" by releasing information about government surveillance. Holder, a guest on David Axelrod's "Axe Files" podcast, also said Snowden endangered American interests and should face consequences for his actions. 

Source:
×