Will miracles never cease?
On a 221-201 vote, the House of Representatives swiftly passed a measure Tuesday evening to lift the debt ceiling through March 2015, capping a day of fast-turning events.
Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner announced he would bring a “clean” bill to the floor without any policy attachments — a move Republicans typically abhor when it comes to raising the government’s borrowing limit.(Real Clear Politics)
It wasn’t without effort, though; prior to the House vote, House leaders tried to attach various amendments and riders to the debt limit bill….none of them could, in John of Orange‘s words, “get 218 votes”. While various conservative groups, as expected, criticized the debt vote, the White House congratulated the House, calling today’s vote “a positive step in moving away from the political brinkmanship that’s a needless drag on our economy”.
Of course, having passed the House, it now faces the all-but-certain prospect of a 60-vote threshold before it can reach the White House, but the upper chamber is expected to make it through that threshold and pass the debt ceiling bill sometime this week.
Just minutes ago, the Senate by a margin of 83-16, voted to consider final passage of the budget deal that will end the 16+ day government shutdown and brought us to the brink of fiscal calamity; While a second vote on final passage is required to send the budget deal to the House, for all intents-and-purposes, this bill will get through the Senate.
(UPDATE) Final passage in the Senate was 81-18, according to CNN.
Here’s the basics of the deal announced earlier this afternoon on the Senate floor…
- Government to be re-opened and funded at current sequestration levels until Jan. 15th
- Debt ceiling to be raised and extended out to Feb. 7th subject to Congressional vote (which can be vetoed by Pres. Obama)
- Budget conference to be established between both houses of Congress to work on a long-term budget agreement by no later than Dec. 13th
- Income verification for those purchasing health insurance through the Health Exchanges
- Full backpay for furloughed workers
In case you still think this was a good deal for the Republicans, here’s the things they didn’t get to include in this package…
- Continuation of the “extraordinary measures” provision allowing the Treasury Dept. to continue stretching out the debt ceiling as needed
- No prohibition on Congressional staffers utilizing subsidies to purchase health insurance through the Exchanges
- No restrictions on birth control access through insurance policies w/in the Exchanges
- No repeal and/or delay in either the medical device tax OR the medical reinsurance tax
- No repeal or delay in any aspect of either the Health Exchanges OR the ACA’s Individual Mandate
To be fair, there was a bit of give-and-go from both sides; for instance, Democrats have all-but-accepted that government funding will continue at current sequestration levels, which means this deal could (and I emphasize could) have the potential to blow up in the Dems’ faces when Jan. 15th rolls around. That said, this is still a good deal for Democrats because it, (a)gets the government open again & keeps the government running for some time, (b)lifts the spectre of a debt ceiling default (although there may still be repercussions from even getting this close to it) and (c)it potentially gives Democrats a major political weapon to use against Republicans come election time as they can go to voters and argue that Republicans cannot be trusted with the instruments of power, as witnessed by the govt. shutdown and debt ceiling debates.
Of course, all this depends on whether this deal gets through both houses…if it snags anywhere, then to quote Jackass’s Johnny Knoxville, “We’re all just pissing in the wind.”
While there are still, as far as I can tell, no votes scheduled on any debt limit deal as of yet, word out of Washington is that senators are close to finalizing such a deal, according to Politico:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are finalizing a deal to avert a debt default and reopen the government, capping a frantic day that had Washington bracing for an economic crisis of its own making.
The deal is essentially done, sources say, as aides for the two leaders finish drafting the legislative language Tuesday night.
Reid and McConnell are expected to brief their respective caucuses Wednesday, hours before the country could fail to pay its bills for the first time in history. Cooperation will be needed from members of both parties in order to avoid default as well as to end the first government shutdown in 17 years. And a Senate plan will need to clear the House, which has struggled to pass any bill to raise the national debt limit.
- Governments agencies would reopen & remain open until Jan. 15th
- The debt ceiling would be lifted until Feb. 7th
- the Treasury Dept. would be allowed to use “extraordinary measures” to continue paying the nation’s debt should the debt ceiling not be raised in early Feb.
- HHS would be required to verify income levels for individuals seeking health insurance through the Health Exchanges
Even if the Senate can cobble together a deal, as mentioned in a few other posts below, the earliest it appears the House will vote on such an agreement is Wednesday…quoting Political Wire (via National Review):
Robert Costa: “My sources tell me House Republicans will likely postpone tonight’s vote on their plan to end the fiscal impasse… This development leaves Speaker John Boehner with few options as Thursday’s debt-ceiling deadline nears, and it throws the action back toward the Senate, which has been working on a bipartisan package.”
Said a House leadership aide: “The votes aren’t there. We’ve been amending the bill all day, but we’ve been unable to get people around this strategy.”
..or, to quote Politico:
“House Republicans are in trouble.”
As the looming debt ceiling deadline creeps ever closer, senators from both parties are continuing to iron out a dead that would get us away from the proverbial cliff…
Senate leaders neared the completion Monday night of a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown while the rest of the world braced for the possibility of an American default that could set off a global financial disaster.
Negotiators talked into the evening as senators from both parties coalesced around a plan that would lift the debt limit through Feb. 7, pass a resolution to finance the government through Jan. 15 and conclude formal discussions on a long-term tax and spending plan no later than Dec. 13, according to one Senate aide briefed on the plan.(New York Times)
As I mentioned in a post here Monday, the deal that’s being hashed out in the Senate would still have to get through the House…and if one congressman’s words are any indication, that might be a hard sell anyway you look at it…
But while both Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, praised the progress that was made in the Senate, it was already clear that the most conservative members of the House were not going to go along quietly with a plan that does not accomplish their goal from the outset of this two-week-old crisis: dismantling the president’s health care law.
“We’ve got a name for it in the House: it’s called the Senate surrender caucus,” said Representative Tim Huelskamp, Republican of Kansas. “Anybody who would vote for that in the House as Republican would virtually guarantee a primary challenger.”(New York Times)
Meanwhile, the debt ceiling deadline continues approaching…and approaches…and, well, you get the idea.