Senate Democrats have rejected a proposal by moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government.
The two sides in the Senate disagree over issues of timing. As reported by Politico, Collins is seeking a two-year delay of the medical device tax in the Affordable Care Act but would only extend the debt ceiling deadline through January and fund the government through March. Democrats do not view that as an equitable trade.
Collins and Senate Democrats also disagree on spending levels. Democrats already consider the $US986 billion level for 2014 discretionary spending that has been used in most House and Senate bills to be a concession. (Discretionary spending is all spending other than programs whose costs are determined by formulas that Congress is not required to reauthorize each year, such as Social Security.) The Collins plan would cut that figure to $US967 billion.
“On the merits there is virtually nothing in it for us,” a senior Senate Democratic aide tells Business Insider, “given that we’ve already passed a clean [continuing resolution] and Republicans are now pregnant on the concept of a clean debt limit increase.”
That second part is a reference to the fact that Republican leadership in the House has been pushing for a six-week debt limit increase without policy concessions, and many Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, have been sending signals that they are not really willing to allow the country to hit the debt limit.
With Republicans signalling that they aren’t actually willing to breach the debt limit, it’s hard for Democrats to justify giving them much in return for an increase.
But further negotiations in the Senate probably remain the best hope for reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling before the Oct. 17 deadline. Reid and McConnell are said to be talking to hopefully work out something.
All eyes have been on the Senate since House Republicans wrapped up a meeting Saturday morning where their leader John Boehner informed the caucus that there is still no “deal” with The White House to reopen the government or lift the debt ceiling. At the meeting, Boehner along with other members of House GOP leadership slammed their Senate Republican counterparts for apparently being willing to work with the The White House, according to reports.
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