House Democrats say they plan to use the upcoming debates over must-pass spending legislation and raising the debt limit as a way to win concessions to stabilize Obamacare, The Hill reported on Sunday.
“We could make some kind of provisions [stabilizing Obamacare] part of our negotiations on spending in September,” Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, the ranking member of the Budget Committee, told The Hill.
After Congress returns from recess, it only has until October 1 to pass a new spending measure or the government would shut down. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has established a September 29 deadline for raising the debt limit, the timing of which suggests the two measures could be linked together for simplicity.
Adding to the likelihood of the GOP needing Democratic votes to pass legislation is that Mnuchin wants a “clean” hike, meaning the Trump administration does not back linking spending cuts to the debt limit bill despite demands from Republicans.
However, such a deal means the Democrats would abandon their discouragement of offering suggestions for fixing Obmacare. That strategy has been based on the belief that Republicans will bear the blame come midterm election next year for the failure to pass any healthcare reform, since they control not only the White House but both chambers of Congress.
In any case, mounting pressure from constituents has led many Democrats to come up with solutions, as shown by the bipartisan Problem Solvers group, which has proposed a plan for reforms meant to stabilize Obamacare’s insurance markets.
Although Democratic leaders have not come out fully supporting this plan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in which she said that “House Democrats are prepared to support [some of McConnell’s market stabilization provisions] and exchange ideas on how we go forward in other respects.”
It is, however, unclear how this will all play out, considering both disagreements among Democrats and the fact that any Republican support for fixing Obamacare would almost assuredly bring a harsh backlash from conservative congressmen, especially the House Freedom Caucus.
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