House Republicans have shelved a vote on legislation to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), the chair of the House Rules Committee, told reporters Tuesday night that there would be “no action” on the legislation Tuesday night.
“We are going to be prepared tomorrow to make some decisions,” Sessions said.
The Rules Committee abruptly postponed a hearing on the legislation earlier Tuesday, because Republican leadership didn’t have the votes to pass its own plan.
The House of Representatives had planned earlier Tuesday afternoon to go ahead the vote, which featured an Obamacare-related provision. With the failure in the House, the action now shifts back to the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are already talking, and aides close to both are “optimistic” a deal will be reached.
House conservatives signaled early Tuesday morning their disapproval of a
possible Senate deal that would reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.
House Leadership went ahead with plans to move its own legislation, despite no support from Democrats and conservative opposition. Heritage Action, a conservative group that has pushed the “defund Obamacare” movement over the past few months, announced Tuesday evening that it is advising House Republicans to vote “no” on the measure.
The details of the House plan changed significantly since the morning. Originally, the plan was to fund the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. The GOP’s final legislation keeps the government funded only through Dec. 15.
It also originally included three Affordable Care Act-related provisions — a two-year delay of the tax on medical devices, an income-verification process for people applying for subsidies, and a version of the “Vitter amendment” that would bar just lawmakers (not congressional and White House staff) from receiving subsidies for federal health insurance under Obamacare.
Two of those — the medical-device tax and income verification — have been stripped from the legislation. Another — the Vitter amendment — has been altered back to its original version, which bars staffers from receiving subsidies.
House Speaker John Boehner said at a press conference Tuesday morning that “there have been no decisions about what exactly we will do.”
“We are talking with our members on both sides of the aisle to try to find a way to move forward today,” Boehner said. Later, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters in a press conference that Boehner didn’t have the votes for the plan.
The White House blasted the reported original plan in a statement late Tuesday morning, saying it was a “ransom” designed to “appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place.”
“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 the statement.
On the Senate floor Thursday morning, Majority Leader Harry Reid said that the new House proposal “blindsided” him and others in the Senate negotiations.
“I’m very disappointed with John Boehner, who would once again try to preserve his role at the expense of this country,” Reid said.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, responded to Reid’s comments minutes later, saying that he is “so blinded by partisanship that he is willing to risk default on our debt to protect a ‘pacemaker tax.'”
President Obama is meeting with House Democratic leaders on Tuesday afternoon, the White House said.
Before they walked into the 9 a.m. House Republican conference meeting Tuesday morning, House conservatives complained to Costa. One Tea Party congressman called the Senate plan a “mushy piece of s — .” Another said that if House Speaker John Boehner backs the deal, “he’s in trouble.”
“That seems to be an oxymoron. ‘Senate,’ then ‘plan,'” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
The opposition to the Senate plan is not really a surprise. House Republicans en masse won’t be thrilled that the only thing they’re “getting” out of this is an income-verification measure for people obtaining subsidies through the Affordable Care Act. It’s not a policy victory with which they can go home to their constituents after a more than two-week shutdown.
According to Roll Call, about 15-20 House conservatives met in secret with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) Monday night at the Capitol Hill watering hole Tortilla Coast, where they plotted how to respond to the Senate deal. Given the reactions from House conservatives Tuesday, it’s likely that they discussed how to hold firm on their opposition to any deal that does not fundamentally alter Obamacare.
And it appears that House leadership is not yet ready to give in to the Senate plan.
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