John Boehner: No deal with White House
By: Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
October 12, 2013 09:10 AM EDT
On Saturday morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told House Republicans in a closed meeting that there is no deal to reopen the government and hike the debt ceiling, and no negotiations going on with the White House, according to two sources present.
Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said: “Senate Republicans need to stand strong and fight,” according to a source in the room. Several Republicans in the room said the process to reopen the government and hike the debt is at a standstill.
On Thursday afternoon, Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) submitted a framework to President Barack Obama that would set up budget talks, while opening the government and increasing the debt limit. Obama rejected the House GOP proposal — which would replace sequester cuts with some entitlement changes — though both sides are continuing to talk. House GOP aides said Obama wants to increase revenue as part of the plan.
Boehner will talk with Republicans about his conversation with Obama, and update them on the status of the proposal they submitted to the White House, according to an aide. After a series of morning votes, House leadership will likely send members home until Monday evening.
In what has become a recurring theme in Boehner’s tenure, Senate Republicans might outmaneuver him. In that chamber, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are circulating a 23-page draft bill that would increase the borrowing limit until January and end the first government shutdown since 1996 by funding government through March.
The bill would also delay Obamacare’s tax on medical devices for two years, while paying for the lost revenue by altering the way that pensions are calculated. allow the heads of federal agencies more autonomy within the constraints of the sequester and provide funding boosts for wildfire suppression, a key concern of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Obama expressed some openness to altering the medical device tax and use some changes to the , telling Senate Republicans in a closed Friday meeting that it was not central to his landmark domestic achievement — the Affordable Care Act. The Collins-Manchin draft is not final and is expected to undergo significant revisions in the coming days, sources said.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Saturday will move forward with a procedural vote to lift the debt ceiling through 2014 with no policy add-ons. That vote is not expected to reach the key 60-vote threshold needed to proceed to debate. But the legislation may later be altered to reflect any compromise struck in the Senate.
Neither Senate proposal seems like it would be popular in the House, which even has trouble passing its own plans.
It’s very clear that Republicans are easing up on their demands for repealing Obamacare. In a brief interview with POLITICO, Cantor said he wants to delay the individual mandate fine for one year – a far cry from the House GOP’s opening gambit of defunding the law.
“We believe strongly that there needs to be some fairness in the way the Obamacare law is being implemented,” Cantor told POLITICO. “We believe very simply there ought to be a suspension of the individual penalty. They did it for business.”
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said there’s “bipartisan support” for repealing the medical device tax and ending the Independent Payment Advisory Board for Medicare.
“There’s the possibility you could suspend the fine associated with Obamacare,” Gardner said. “There’s plenty of room. The American people are seeing with their very own eyes what Obamacare means to them.”
Many House conservatives see ending the device tax as going after a “shiny object” instead of focusing on truly altering the law, one conservative Republican told POLITICO.
Boehner, who is at the center of this mayhem, is described as calm by friends and allies. He dined on Friday night with Republican lawmakers in a first-floor room in the Capitol called the “Board of Ed.” It was the room in which former House Speaker Sam Rayburn met with his allies — including Lyndon Johnson. The room smelled of Chinese food and cigarettes. Rep. Steve Womak (R-Ark.) was there, as was Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), a close Boehner ally who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee.
Kline said they spoke about a “wide range of subjects, certainly including what might be considered under a debt ceiling increase, what might be considered under a continuing resolution, but fundamentally people talking as friends, and that’s it.”
Asked if something would happen in the next few days, Kline said: “I certainly hope so.”
“The speaker is very upbeat, he is a very positive leader and he’s hopeful things will happen,” Kline said, before leaving the Capitol late Friday evening.
After leaving the speaker’s office after a Friday afternoon meeting, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called Boehner a “national treasure.” Graham has been quietly reaching out to House members to reach an agreement that Republicans in both chambers can support.
“I don’t know how he does it. I mean really, honest to God, he’s got the best disposition for that job as anyone I can think of,” said Graham, a former House member and longtime friend of Boehner’s.