On Saturday night, the House of Representatives is likely to pass amendments to the Senate’s continuing resolution that include a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and a permanent repeal of the tax on medical devices.
Like a game of ping-pong, this will send the continuing resolution back to the Senate. And it could set up a heavy dose of drama on Monday as a shutdown looms.
Here’s what is likely to happen next:
- The Senate is not likely to come back into session Sunday. It will reconvene Monday at 2 p.m. “No point to coming in earlier. We are not playing games,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide said.
- When it reconvenes Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will move to table the amendments passed Saturday night by the House. The amendments can be stripped from the CR by a simple majority vote.
- On Monday night, with the shutdown getting closer, House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders will have a choice — pass the Senate’s so-called “clean” CR with Democratic votes, or likely take the government into a partial shutdown.
- Right now, it looks like the House will keep the game of ping-pong alive. National Review’s Robert Costa reports that the House will send back another bill — and the most likely option is to send back a CR with an amendment that has been pushed by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).
The “Vitter amendment” would bar lawmakers, Congressional staffers, and administration staffers from receiving federal subsidies for health insurance under Obamacare.
Republicans think that this would give them good political standing in the shutdown battle. They think they would be able to paint Senate Democrats as willing to shut down the government to keep their congressional perks.
There are a couple potential problems with this strategy, however. The first is that it’s not clear if leadership could get enough Republican votes for the measure. Some will think it doesn’t go far enough, as it does not delay or defund Obamacare in any way.
Others might not support it because it would directly hit their pockets and the pockets of their staff. When Vitter tried to bring up his amendment during debate over an unrelated energy-efficiency bill, Politico’s Ginger Gibson reported that staffers from Republican offices were reaching out to their Democratic counterparts to get assurance that the amendment would not pass.