With Cliff Legislation Now in House’s Court, Leaders Mull Options

Posted January 1, 2013 at 11:41am

House Republican leadership will meet Tuesday to decide when and how to bring the Senate-passed fiscal cliff deal to the floor, bringing to an end, at least for a time, years of debate over tax and spending measures.

Having received the Senate bill close to 3 a.m. on Tuesday, decisions had not been made by mid-morning about when the vote will take place. The House gavels in at noon, and leadership will meet around that time to discuss their way forward. They will meet with their conference at 1 p.m., likely to discuss their options and the particulars of the Senate-passed legislation (HR 8).

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio has stated that any bill that passes the Senate will be considered by the House, whether they simply pass it or amend it. The strong 89-8 Senate vote will surely spur action on the bill, and with little time until the end of this Congress, it seems unlikely that amending the bill is a viable option.

Late on Monday evening after the contours of the Senate deal had taken shape, Boehner and his team released a statement that said, “The House will honor its commitment to consider the Senate agreement if it is passed. Decisions about whether the House will seek to accept or promptly amend the measure will not be made until House members — and the American people — have been able to review the legislation.” Hard-line conservative groups such as Heritage Action for America have come out against the legislation.

The House’s path is made simpler since leadership has procedure on their side.

Clause 6(a)(3) of rule XIII gives House leaders same-day authority during the last three days of a Congress, meaning they can bring the legislation to the floor any time before noon on Thursday. The procedure has not been used since Dec. 31, 1970.

There is a possibility the chamber might take up a supplemental appropriations bill related to superstorm Sandy recovery efforts. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., released the text of a $27 billion measure on Tuesday. Among the funding it provides is $9.7 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program and $5.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund.

“Given the size and scope of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, it is essential that Congress provide the victims of this storm and their communities with the necessary federal aid as soon as possible,” Rogers said in a statement.

The Senate passed its version of the supplemental last week.

Chuck Conlon contributed to this report.