Meetings intensify as shutdown enters 11th day. Public blames unpopular Republicans, poll shows. Negotiations thought to include larger budget issues. Senate majority leader Harry Reid proposed to vote on a bill to extend the debt ceiling until the end of 2014…
No votes are scheduled in the House today. But it’s open. They could ramp up any time.
In the Senate, majority leader Harry Reid moved Thursday evening to vote on a bill to extend the debt ceiling until the end of 2014. That legislation, or a version of it, could work its way into a broad agreement between the sides, although Republicans have rejected the idea of adding so much headroom.
The headroom, lest anyone needs reminding, is currently running out fast:
What’s a “spending cut”?
The Republicans have arrived to the White House, CBS News reports.
Anatomy of a deal
The White House has said repeatedly that the president will not enter budget negotiations until Congress reopens the government. Those negotiations now appear to be happening.
The question is, if a deal emerges, will it require Republicans to pass the stopgap spending bill the Senate passed on 27 September with no add-ons pertaining to Obamacare or anything else – “clean,” as they say?
And what will the Republicans require in return for doing so? “We need to get something for the [continuing resolution] and something for the debt ceiling,” Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho has explained.
One of the leaders of the negotiations on the Republican side is Paul Ryan, the former vice presidential candidate and reputed budget wonk. “Suddenly a man who seemed in danger of being eclipsed as the face of his party has re-emerged as essential to its rescue,” New York Times congressional reporter Jonathan Weisman writes. So what does Ryan want?
Ryan laid out areas for negotiation in a Wall Street Journal editorial Tuesday. They are Medicare (means-testing for relatively affluent recipients); federal pensions (cutting them) and taxes. He also alluded to the Keystone pipeline which would connect Canada “tar sands” oil deposits to the Gulf coast with dire environmental implications.
Ryan did not mention Obamacare, significantly, meaning a plan he brokers could encounter resistance from the hard-right House faction for whom destroying the law is a top priority. The health care law is partially paid for by a tax on medical devices. The deletion of the tax as part of a deal would allow the Tea Party to claim it had dealt the law a blow.
Democrats have been insisting all week that even a “clean” stopgap spending bill is not great for Democrats because it extrapolates from base spending levels that take into account the “meat-cleaver” sequester cuts. When sequestration becomes part of the new normal, there’s an argument to be made that the Republicans have won, no matter how bad their numbers are.
The chairman of the House appropriations committee said Republicans will test the president on his vow only to cut a budget deal on the condition that government reopens, Bloomberg Business week reports (via @robertcostaNRO):
Obama “would like the shutdown stopped,” Representative Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, said after the White House session. “We are trying to find out what it is he would insist upon” in a spending measure to open the government.
What will they get?
Guardian Washington bureau chief Dan Roberts says Senator Ted Cruz, the
grandstanding outspoken Tea Party standard-bearer, will be among Senate Republicans attending today’s meeting with the president.
Invited to horse-trade with the president. Not bad for someone who’s only held national elected office for 10 months.
Welcome to our live blog coverage of renewed activity on Capitol Hill to end the government shutdown and lift the debt ceiling.
They seem serious this time. A meeting Thursday afternoon between House Republican leaders and the president produced late-night talks on what could be a broad deal. Big budget questions appeared to be on the table, in addition to the two emergencies. A pair of influential House Republicans, the chairmen of the appropriations and budget committees, said publicly that the talks had legs. The White House said the president “looks forward to making continued progress.”
Shelved was the Republican “offer” of Thursday morning to temporarily raise the debt limit. Gone was the notion that the Tea Party would redouble its fight to cripple Obamacare. House Republicans left a Friday breakfast talking about passing a stopgap spending bill to reopen the government, according to Robert Costa of the National Review. That step previously seemed beyond reach because of the strength of hard-right resistance.
Coincidentally, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released one of their regular polls Thursday evening showing that the Republican party had, through the shutdown and default brinksmanship, achieved its worst rating in the history of the poll: 24% positive, 53% negative. The poll said the public blames Republicans more than the president for the shutdown by a margin of 53-31. The poll showed that Obamacare is rising in popularity.
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