Republican leaders will pitch the framework of a tentative deal to reopen the government to a not-so thrilled Republican caucus.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will have his work cut out Tuesday morning, when he updates Republican lawmakers on ongoing negotiations to cobble together a budget plan that would end a two-week-old partial government shutdown and avoid a manufactured, non-existent default on U.S. government debt.
Minority Leader McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wrapped up negotiations late Monday, which ironed out the specifics of an emerging budget proposal after a string of prior plans tanked in the Senate thanks to Harry Reid.
Reid appeared on the chamber floor Monday night very optimistic, and announced, “We’ve made tremendous progress–we are not there yet–but tremendous progress, and everyone just needs to be patient.”
McConnell added, “We’ve had a good day…I think it’s safe to say we’ve made substantial progress and we look forward to making more progress in the near future.”
Around the same time that McConnell will meet with Republican Senators, House GOP leaders will be meeting with their more conservative rank-and-file, many of whom are already skeptical toward the details of the negotiations that were dripping out Monday night.
And they should be, because Democrats offered no real concessions — save for verification that Obamacare recipients are legal — while Democrats will again except another bloc from Obamacare taxes the rest of Americans will still be on the hook for. Unions will be exempt from “bellybutton” taxes — aproximately $85.00 monthly — and the “honor” system that Obamacare is currently on, which would allow illegals to sign up, will now be subject to verification.
The House could table, or at least stall, any deal that emerges from the Senate.
The White House abruptly postponed a meeting with congressional leaders set for Monday afternoon, supposedly to give senators space to work. But White House aides said that President Obama had called the meeting only after the futures market indicated a market plummet at the opening bell. He hoped to leverage Republicans, but when the stock market rebounded, pulled the deal away again.
“We’re going to get this done,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, claimed.
After several prior plans fell apart over the weekend, including one put together by Sen. Susan Collins R-ME, which received bipartisan support but killed by Harry Reid, lawmakers are working with little time before an artificial Oct. 17 deadline to raise the debt ceiling. After that date, the Treasury Department Secretary Jacob Lew, says the U.S. government will not be able to pay all its bills.
The emerging framework would raise the debt ceiling through February, kicking the can down the road again, and include a spending bill meant to last through Jan. 15.
Importantly, a popular provision to repeal or delay the medical device tax in ObamaCare has been removed.
House Republicans are watching the negotiations unfold, and according to aides still want to see provisions to strip Obamacare subsidies for congressional staff. Conservative members predicted a “huge fight” if McConnell “completely capitulates.”
Pressure is mounting from all sides to reach an agreement. There is fear that the financial markets could start to dive if traders lose confidence that a deal will ultimately emerge. And furloughed federal workers, now entering week three of the partial shutdown, are just now starting to see the hit to their paychecks.
Budget proposals fell apart over the weekend after GOP lawmakers on Sunday rightfully accused Democrats of trying to move the goal post on Republicans, demanding they roll back across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequester.
“I agree that Republicans started with the overreach, but now Democrats are one tick too cute,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-TN., told “Fox News Sunday.” “They are now overreaching.”
He said “both sides need to come to the middle of the road.”
The prior plan, fronted by Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, would have funded the government for six months, raised the debt limit through Jan. 31, and delayed the health care law’s medical device tax.
Harry Reid outright dismissed the plan on Saturday and the dispute over spending levels escalated.
Republicans, along with the majority of the country, want to continue current spending at $986.7 billion and leave untouched the new round of cuts on Jan. 15 that would reduce the amount to $967 billion. And Americans even oppose raising the debt ceiling 2 – 1 if it is not coupled with spending cuts.
However, Democrats want not only to stop a plan to cut spending, but to undo the sequester, plus enact a long-term extension of the debt limit increase and a short-term spending bill to reopen the government.
A House Republican leadership aide said Sunday that Reid “moved the goalposts” by trying to “violate” spending levels set in the 2011 Budget Control Act.
But, against reality,Democrats denied they were trying to violate those levels.
A Senate Democratic leadership aide said “the suggestion that Democrats insist on breaking the budget caps is false and belied by the facts.”
In other words, Democrats argue that they would accept current spending levels for a short period — just not as long as Collins proposed — so they can have another go at the sequester cuts in the near future.
Congressional sources confirmed that the talks between Reid and McConnell are now over the length of the spending bill, rather than the length of the debt-ceiling increase. Reid wants a longer extension on the debt ceiling, but a shorter-term spending bill.