It appears that there may be some movement on negotiations between House Republicans and President Barack Obama on the budget and debt ceiling, nine days after the government shutdown began.
A group of House Republican leaders went to the White House last night, where President Obama insisted that he wouldn’t negotiate “with a gun at [his] head.” He apparently told Republicans that he was open to short-term a spending agreement and debt ceiling hike, which would pave the way for talks.
For their part, Republicans are at least considering the short-term debt ceiling hike, which would be considerably less than the $1 trillion request made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Robert Costa of the National Review called this a “half-way” approach, meaning that President Obama would have to meet them on funding the government.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is also talking to his caucus about possibly making a deal with the White House to end the government shutdown. Politico notes that the Kentucky Republican would support “temporarily raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government in return for a handful of policy proposals.”
The finger-pointing continues as Congress enters the eighth day of the government shutdown and there doesn’t seem to be a resolution in sight.
Tuesday began with President Barack Obama daring House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to pass a clean Continuing Resolution (CR). Boehner has insisted that such a measure can’t pass the House, but President Obama wants the Ohio Republican to “prove it.” Yes, folks, Washington is apparently governing by double-dog dares.
The Washington Post noted yesterday that are enough moderate Republicans willing to join Democrats to pass a clean CR. But that’s questionable. While there may be enough House Republicans unhappy about the stalemate, they’ve rejected a procedural trick by Democrats to bring the measure that President Obama wants to the floor.
The interesting aspect in all of this is that President Obama, despite all of his rhetoric, has distanced himself from the CR and debt ceiling debate. The Hill noted yesterday that the White House is now deferring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), putting him in charge of negotiations with House leadership. For his part, Reid is has been just as unwilling to move from his position as the White House.
If you were hoping the impasse over the Continuing Resolution (CR) and ObamaCare would be solved over the weekend, you no doubt woke up to disappointing news this morning. Today is the seventh day of the government shutdown and it appears that the White House and Congress are no closer to a resolution.
While ObamaCare was the initial focus of House Republicans, they’ve now shifted their strategy to get a deal that would fund the federal government and raise the debt limit, which will be reached in 10 days.
The White House believes that they “are winning,” according to an anonymous source quoted in the Wall Street Journal, and that “[i]t doesn’t really matter” how long the government shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result.” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had harsh words in response to that quote, telling reporters on Friday that “[t]his isn’t some damn game.”
Whether they like it or not, congressional Republicans may have squandered their chance to deal on the debt ceiling because of the current government shutdown.
House Republicans are absolutely right when they say that President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have been unwilling to negotiate on a Continuing Resolution that would keep the government open. But they made a tactical political mistake by trying to defund and delay ObamaCare through a measure that would keep the federal government running.
Poll after poll shows that Americans disapprove of ObamaCare, the 2010 healthcare law, and they want it repealed. They’re seeing the effects of the law through higher insurance premiums and its effects on workers as many employers drop or change benefits, cut hours to avoid mandates and/or have scaled back plans to hire. Republicans have won the messaging battle on ObamaCare.
But early polls show Americans placing more blame on Republicans for the government shutdown than President Obama and Democrats. This isn’t entirely self-inflicted; after all, the media isn’t exactly doing them any favors by framing the narrative in a manner that helps the White House.
Bob Woodward spared no side from criticism over the fiscal debates raging in Washington, during an appearance yesterday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Woodward, a Washington Post columnist renowned for his coverage of the Watergate scandal, criticized Republicans for their handling the budget situation and debt ceiling negotiations. But he reserved heavy criticism for President Barack Obama, noting that his failure to strike a deal is ultimately a failure of leadership on his part.
“[T]here is something [President Obama] could be doing. He said he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling — a reasonable position. But he should be talking,” Woodward explained to other panelists. “They should be meeting, discussing this, because…the American economy is at stake and the president, if there is a downturn or a collapse or whatever could happen here that’s bad, it’s going to be on his head.”
Drawing from history, Woodward notes that the onus is ultimately on President Obama to make sure that these debates are settled, regardless of House Speaker John Boehner’s role in the situation.
The speechwriters at the White House have dug deep into their rhetorical bag of tricks to help President Barack Obama get public sentiment on his side over funding for the federal government and the debt ceiling.
During a speech last week in Maryland, President Obama told those in attendance that not only were Republicans threatening a government shutdown, they were threatening a so-called “economic shutdown” as they tried negotiate changes or delays to ObamaCare for a debt ceiling increase.
“Some of the same Republicans who warned three years ago that this law would be “Armageddon” — that’s what they said — “Armageddon” — now they’re threatening steps that actually would badly hurt our entire economy — not because of the Affordable Care Act but because of what they’re threatening to do,” said President Obama last Thursday in Largo, Maryland.
“Some have threatened a government shutdown if they can’t shut down this law. Others have actually threatened an economic shutdown by refusing to pay America’s bills if they can’t delay the law,” he added. “That’s not going to happen as long as I’m President. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
There would be some short-term economic effects if the debt ceiling weren’t increased, but the economy wouldn’t shutdown. House Republicans did offer a fix for this, by the way. They’ve twice passed legislation (back in May and again in the Continuing Resolution) that would require the Treasury Department to prioritize debt spending in the event of fiscal turmoil. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats, who would rather use the debt ceiling as a political tool, wouldn’t take it up.
The United States Senate approved a cloture motion cloture to end debate on the Continuing Resolution, allowing Majority Leader Harry Reid to offer an amendment to strike the language that would defund ObamaCare from the measure.
In a 79 to 19 vote, the Senate ended debate on the Continuing Resolution (CR), with 25 Republicans joining all 54 Democrats (including two Independents who caucus with the majority) in advancing the measure. Just 19 Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), voted against the cloture motion.
A conservative news outlet reported on Thursday that as many as 30 Senate Republicans would vote with Cruz, who spoke for over 21 hours early this week against ObamaCare. Some observed that Senate Republicans were waiting for Reid to get 60 votes before they voted with Cruz.
Shortly after ending debate, a motion to wave points of order concerning the budget passed by a vote of 68 to 30. This was necessary because the CR violated the spending limits set in the Budget Control Act of 2011, appropriating roughly $20 billion more than the law allows.
President Barack Obama spent his Thursday slamming Republicans for their attempts to delay and defund ObamaCare through the Continuing Resolution (CR), a stop-gap measure being debate in Congress that would keep the government running:
Obama accused Republicans of being more afraid the law will succeed than fail and slammed their efforts to strip funding or delay ObamaCare.
He said the GOP was scrambling to defeat the law now because, if it was successfully implemented, it would become popular and undermine their credibility.
He reiterated that he would block such efforts if Republicans attach language to a spending measure to keep the government operating.
“They have made such a big political issue about this with lies about death panels and killing granny, Armageddon — if it actually works, they’ll look pretty bad,” he said of Republicans.
That’s not all he said. Employing his usual Alinskyite tactics and arrogance, President Obama said Republicans were “crazy,” citing a random quote from one House member who was speaking only for himself.
President Obama once again claimed that the 2010 healthcare law would make health insurance more affordable. But insurance rates released earlier this week show that those seeking health insurance coverage on the state exchanges can expect premiums to skyrocket compared to pre-ObamaCare rates.
The narrative in the media is that House Republicans will take a majority of the blame from voters for a government shutdown, which talking heads and pundits say is an example of their unwillingness to work with President Barack Obama.
But new Gallup poll shows that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is Capitol Hill’s most unpopular leader, surpassing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the latter of whom previously took the dishonor.
According to the poll, which was conducted between September 5-8, only 33% of American adults approve of Reid, while 53% disapprove, putting his approval rating underwater by 20 points.
Boehner doesn’t come out much better, at 37/54 (-17), while Pelosi is at 39/51 (-12). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who will face a tough fight for re-election next year, is the only congressional leader who has a disapproval rating under 50%, though he’s still underwater, at 35/47 (-12).
The poll come as Congress faces high-priority issues, including passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government and raising the debt ceiling. The House passed a CR last week that defunded ObamaCare, President Barack Obama’s top domestic achievement.
It doesn’t sound like the legislative wrangling over the Continuing Resolution (CR) will be over once the Senate acts. The Hill notes that some House Republicans have indicated that they may amend the measure, sending it back to the Senate, further increasing the prospects over a government shutdown:
Senate Democrats have vowed to remove a provision in the House-passed continuing resolution (CR) that withholds money from President Obama’s healthcare law. If they send back a “clean” version, House leaders would have to decide whether to accept it, or amend it and send it back across the Capitol.
“I don’t think we’re going to accept a clean CR,” Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.) said.
“I don’t think that’s the end of the negotiations,” Boustany said. “We may have a shut down temporarily.”
Two members of the leadership team, Reps. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), said it was more likely the House would try to amend the spending bill rather than accept the Senate’s version.
“I think it’s more likely that we would edit that rebound and send something back over that was more in line with our values, and I don’t think a clean CR necessarily is that,” Southerland said.