House GOP May Not Have the Votes to Pass Their Own Plan
The last ditch House Republican plan to reopen government and suspend the debt limit is opposed by the White House, the Senate and may not have enough votes to get approved in the House.
The House plan, which the White House and Democrats rejected almost as soon as it was floated today, would likely include more changes to President Obama's health care law, including a delay in a tax on medical devices and a provision that would force members of Congress, their staff and cabinet members to get their health insurance from exchanges. It also calls for income verification for Americans receiving taxpayer subsidies through Obamacare.
In a sign of the uncertainty, House Speaker John Boehner , R-Ohio, said he has not yet decided how to proceed as he continues to work with his members "to find a way forward."
"There are a lot of opinions about what direction to go. There have been no decisions about what exactly we will do," Boehner said following a two-hour meeting with fellow Republicans today. "We're going to continue to work with our members on both sides of the aisle to try to make sure that there is no issue of default, and to get our government reopened."
With the debt limit deadline looming in less than two days, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi predicted that Boehner does not have the votes to pass his party's own debt-limit plan.
Pelosi said she has been urging the speaker to take up the Senate's bipartisan deal and move forward with a vote in the House. Pelosi said an "overwhelming" number of House Democrats would vote for the Senate plan.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called Boehner's push for a House alternative "unproductive."
"I don't think it'll succeed. The president and the Senate and House Democrats are totally against what he's doing because it's beyond the pale and it'll probably get worse," Schumer said. He accused Boehner of trying to "derail" talks between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
And some House Republicans expressed uncertainty about the level of support for the newest GOP proposal.
When asked whether Republicans would need Democratic votes to pass it, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the chairman of the House Appropriations committee would only say, "We'll see."
And, in an interview with The New York Times, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., acknowledged the possibility that "our party can't pass this."
"If my colleagues can't muster together and sometimes accept good because they're waiting for perfect, then that's on them," Kinzinger told The Times
The House plan would maintain the emerging Senate deal's extension of the resolution to fund government operations through Jan. 15 while raising the debt limit until Feb. 7.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Republicans want Democrats to negotiate, specifically on the point that the president has delayed the employer mandate in his signature health care law while the individual mandate remains in place.
"I'm glad to see that Harry Reid and the Senate finally has begun to sit down and talk with the Republican leader there, and we encourage that," Cantor, R-Va., said. "We also, though, as the House Republican conference, think it's very, very important for us to stress in whatever proposal we move forward will reflect our position on fairness, that no special treatment for anybody under the law."
Amid the latest round of the two-week old stalemate, which has left the government shut down and the country moving perilously close to a default, House Republicans insisted they are not taking their eye off the clock.
"We are very cognizant of the calendar," House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said. "We want to find a solution to this in a bipartisan manner that gets us moving forward, that gets America back to working again."
Boehner sought to offer similar assurances: "I have made clear for months and months that the idea of default is wrong, and we shouldn't get anywhere close to it."