House GOP To Push Separate Bill To Reopen Government, Raise Debt Limit

10/15/2013 09:49 am ET | Updated Oct 15, 2013
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

In a closed-door meeting on Tuesday morning, House Republican leadership decided to put out its own debt limit and government funding bill, rather than adopt the one emerging from the Senate.

The details for the bill, as told by a top Republican aide, are as follows: The bill would fund the government through Jan. 15 and extend the debt limit through Feb. 7. Those are the same lengths of time as the Senate bill would provide.

However, the House bill will have a two-year delay of the Medicare device tax and would also end health care subsidies for members of Congress and cabinet officials. The latter provision is a watered down (more humane) version of the Vitter Amendment, which would have ended the health care subsidies for members of Congress and their aides.

It's difficult to know how the Senate will receive this offer. They haven't yet introduced their own. But the smart bet among observers is that they will table it immediately, leaving Speaker Boehner with two options: pass the Senate version or risk default.

Initial reads on the House's offer were lukewarm or outright negative. It seems unlikely that the Senate would go for something that includes no outright concessions to Democrats (unless you think opening the government and not defaulting is a concession). And because the offer is coming just days before the Oct. 17 debt ceiling deadline, many folks are worried that it would needlessly bring on an economic crisis.

But others had a more positive spin. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), one of the moderate House Republicans who has been pining for an end to the standoff, told MSNBC that it "shouldn't be very difficult to reconcile the differences between the two positions" of the House and the Senate.

A Democratic strategist, meanwhile, emailed with the following, somewhat optimistic thoughts:

This is actually a good sign of a slow and steady climb down by House Rs. By passing the Senate plan and adding some changes this actually makes it easier for the Senate to pass things without Cruz et al slowing things down procedurally. And it also shows clearly that the emperor has no clothes. Republicans now shut down our government for a 2 year delay of medical device tax and to take away health care subsidies from members?

According to Politico, the House bill also would turn off the Treasury's ability to use extraordinary measures to stave off the next debt limit hike, a move that would make the Feb. 7 deadline a hard one. That may end up being the biggest issue for the White House -- lacking logic, the sole purpose of the policy is to up the stakes for the next round of negotiations.

UPDATE: 11:15 a.m. -- The White House has announced that the president will be meeting today at 3:15 p.m. with House Democratic leadership. The announcement came moments after the administration dismissed the House Republicans' latest plan for a debt limit increase and government funding bill.

"The President has said repeatedly that Members of Congress don’t get to demand ransom for fulfilling their basic responsibilities to pass a budget and pay the nation’s bills," White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the latest proposal from House Republicans does just that in a partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have been working in a bipartisan, good-faith effort to end the manufactured crises that have already harmed American families and business owners. With only a couple days remaining until the United States exhausts its borrowing authority, it’s time for the House to do the same."

The announcement also follows reports that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is whipping support against the House GOP proposal, which suggests that President Obama will be urging his members to simply hold the line.

Ryan Grim contributed reporting.
This is a developing story and will be updated.

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