House Set to Vote on Debt Deal, Boehner: 'Trying to Find a Way Forward'

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 06:34 PM

By Ronald Kessler

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House Republicans will vote Tuesday night on a proposal by Speaker John Boehner to reopen the federal government and extend the nation's borrowing authority that includes ending subsidies for elected officials and staff in Washington, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican told Newsmax.

"After listening to members at the [House Republican] Conference this morning, House Republican leaders will bring a plan to the floor that will end the Obamacare subsidies for elected officials and staff in Washington and pressure Senate Democrats to accept more sensible dates for the [continuing resolution] and the debt limit," spokesman Michael Steel said.

But the resolution will not include a two-year delay on the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices that would be used to finance Obamacare, both Steel and Rep. Devin Nunes told Newsmax.

"That's out," the California Republican told Newsmax in an exclusive interview. "It's not going to be in it."

Still, Nunes said he would support the measure.

"At this point, we just need to get the show on the road here and get to bigger problems," he said. "We need to get solutions to the nation's debt and healthcare problems. I am going to support it."

Nunes told Newsmax that the Boehner proposal accepted the framework of the Senate's proposal to reopen the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.

The debt-ceiling date, however, is "a hard deadline," he said. That prohibits the U.S. Treasury Department from employing various measures to extend the borrowing authority beyond that date.

The House legislation also "puts everyone on Obamacare," the congressman said. "All elected members and staff, including the White House."

It also would eliminate any employer contribution or subsidy for these employees, thereby overturning an existing exemption in the Obamacare law.

The House developments came a day after Senate leaders expressed optimism for an imminent bipartisan deal to end the government shutdown, now in its 15th day.

Boehner had said earlier Tuesday that GOP leaders were working on their own legislation, even as conservative lawmakers had threatened to reject any proposal unless it includes significant measures toward dismantling Obamacare

"Our members today are trying to find a way forward in a bipartisan way that will continue to provide fairness to the American people under Obamacare," Boehner said at a press conference Tuesday.

"There are a lot of opinions about what direction to go. There have been no decisions about what exactly we will do. But we're going to continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle to try to make sure there's no issue of default and to get our government re-opened," Boehner said.

The White House has already released a statement indicating the president would reject the Republican plan.

"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," said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage, according to the Post.

"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," Brundage said.

"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."

It also remains to be seen whether the proposals to modify Obamacare will go far enough to satisfy conservatives who continue to press for defunding or a delay to the individual mandate for a year, neither of which are part of the proposals coming out of either chamber.

"We've pushed very, very, very hard, and we're doing that because we understand [the Affordable Care Act] is having very real effects on millions of Americans right now," Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, told Politico.

"If [House Republicans] walk away from the current situation without securing any real, meaningful relief from Obamacare, we're going to be very upset with them," she said.

Though the full details of the developing Senate proposal have yet to be revealed, the main tenets of the deal believed to have already been agreed to by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell include an immediate end to the partial government shutdown and an increase of the debt ceiling to cover U.S. borrowing obligations until mid-February.

The proposal is also expected to continue spending at sequester levels through Jan. 15 while deferring budget negotiations to the year's end.

"We've made tremendous progress. We hope that with good fortune … that perhaps tomorrow will be a bright day," Reid said at the end of a Senate session on Monday, hinting at a possible announcement of a deal Tuesday.

McConnell echoed Reid's optimism. "We have had the opportunity over the last couple of days to have some very constructive exchanges of views about how to move forward," he said, according to The Hill. "I share [the Democratic leader's] optimism that we're going to get a result that will be acceptable to both sides.

Only two relatively minor Obamacare provisions are on the table: a Republican proposal that would require income verification for anyone applying for Obamacare subsidies, and a Democrat proposal to delay by one year the tax on insurance plans that would help insurers who take on the sickest patients spread the risk.

Urgent: Do You Support Sen. Ted Cruz's Efforts to Defund Obamacare? Vote Here.

Conservative lawmakers in the House have said they cannot sign on to a deal without spending cuts and meaningful concessions on Obamacare, and believe the current Senate proposal represents a sell-out by the Republican leadership.

"We've got a name for it in the House: It's called the Senate surrender caucus," Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp told The New York Times. "Anybody who would vote for that in the House as a Republican would virtually guarantee a primary challenger."

"I can't vote for something that doesn't have substantive spending cuts right now,'' Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, told The Wall Street Journal.

The Senate Conservatives Fund is already using language to indicate that Republicans who back a deal without concessions on Obamacare will be given a rough ride at the ballot box. Over the last few months, the group targeted about a half-dozen GOP senators over the Obamacare defunding fight, The Hill reports.

"Mitch McConnell is negotiating the Republican surrender," Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said in a statement, according to The Hill.

"He gave the Democrats a blank check back in July when he signaled he would do anything to avoid a shutdown, and now Democrats can demand whatever they want. It's humiliating…Mitch McConnell has left his party powerless," he said.

Conservative radio talk show host Sean Hannity also signaled disenchantment with mainstream Republicans.

"The problem here is the more establishment wing of the Republican Party, they didn't stick together with these guys," Hannity said, according to The Daily Caller.

"And instead, the establishment has been out there trashing principled conservatives for keeping their principles and for keeping their commitment and their promises to their constituents."

Boehner has not publicly commented on the Senate negotiations. A spokesman said the House would review whatever the Senate passes.

Rep. Peter King, R-NY, said it would be hard for the House not to put it to a vote if it gets strong support from Senate Republicans.

"For the [Sen. Ted] Cruz wing of the party who say we should get a better deal, I say we would have gotten a better deal if we had not shut the government down and gotten right to debt negotiations," said King, a moderate who has criticized the tactics of the conservative Tea Party faction.

As for Cruz, he has so far side-stepped questions as to whether he would move to delay a vote on the Senate package.

Regardless of a bipartisan deal passing the Senate, it remains to be seen whether the House will be able to reach agreement by the Oct. 17 debt default deadline.

Information from Newsmax wires was used in this report.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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