15 octobre 2013
House G.O.P. Backs Off Plan, Leaving Fiscal Talks in Limbo
By JEREMY W. PETERS, MICHAEL D. SHEAR and JONATHAN WEISMAN
Published: October 15, 2013
WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders struggled late Tuesday morning to forge a new proposal to reopen the government and change the president’s health care law, after a plan presented behind closed doors to the Republican rank and file failed to immediately attract enough support to pass.
About two hours after the plan was presented Tuesday morning, Republican leaders backed off it. Speaker John A. Boehner told reporters that there were “no decisions about what exactly we will do.” “We’re trying to find a way forward in a bipartisan
way that would continue to provide fairness to the American people under Obamacare,” Mr. Boehner said, but he also acknowledged that “there are a lot of opinions” among his fractious members.
House Republican leaders could still try to revise the proposal and take it to the membership for a possible vote. “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,” Mr. Boehner said.
The apparent disarray left Mr. Boehner with a crucial decision to make as time ticked down toward a possible default on government obligations on Thursday: to accept whatever bipartisan plan emerges from the Senate, most likely on Tuesday, or to continue to try to get House Republicans in line behind a counterproposal.
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority whip, said Republican leaders were “very cognizant of the calendar.”
Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, said that if House Republicans could not rally behind the proposal that their leadership rolled out Tuesday morning, they would most likely be forced to accept the plan taking shape in the Senate — something many Republican House members have already said is unacceptable.
“If our party can’t pass this, then there’s no doubt we’re going to end up with what the Senate sends us,” Mr. Kinzinger said. “Look, if my colleagues can’t muster together and sometimes accept good because they’re waiting for perfect, then that’s on them.”
But House Republicans appear intent to extract at least one concession: depriving members of Congress, the president, the vice president and White House political appointees of government contributions when they purchase health insurance under the law’s new exchanges. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, said any proposal must reflect
what he called “our position on fairness” — “no special treatment under the law.”
Those words have become code for legislative language that denies employer contributions to politicians forced into the exchanges by a clause in the original health care law.
In the Senate, Republicans prepared to meet at lunch on Tuesday to hear from their leadership about a potential deal with Democrats that could reopen the government and lift the threat of an American default. President Obama will meet with members of the House Democratic leadership on Tuesday afternoon.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, will try to sell his colleagues on the Senate proposal during an early meeting of the Senate Republican conference. Mr. McConnell reached the agreement on Monday evening with Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader; Mr. Reid also plans to discuss the arrangement at a Democratic caucus meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
The deal would reopen the government until Jan. 15 and raise the debt limit until Feb. 7. In addition, lawmakers would agree to conclude negotiations on a longer-term budget by the middle of December.
House Republicans were extremely unhappy with the Senate plan.
“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.”
There have been other showdowns between Republican lawmakers and President Obama that went to the last minute; in 2011, lawmakers reached a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling two days before officials said a default was possible, resulting in a stock market plunge and the downgrading of the nation’s credit rating.
But the real possibility that as of Thursday the government would not be able to meet its obligations prompted grim warnings of an economic catastrophe that could ripple through stock markets, foreign capitals, corporate boardrooms, state budget offices and the bank accounts of everyday investors.
“If Republicans aren’t willing to set aside their partisan concerns in order to do what’s right for the country, we stand a good
chance of defaulting,” Mr. Obama told reporters at Martha’s Table, a Washington-area food bank, “and defaulting could have a potentially devastating effect on the economy.”
Reporting was contributed by Ashley Parker from Washington, Annie Lowrey from Boston and Nathaniel Popper from New York.