Obama Dropped House GOP ‘Like a Hot Potato’

Posted October 14, 2013 at 6:36pm

House Republicans are mulling their next move as Senate leaders look to jam them with a watered-down package far weaker than the lofty concessions Republican leaders once demanded for raising the debt limit and reopening the government.

At the end of a huddle in Speaker John A. Boehner’s office Monday, most Republican leaders remained mum on details — although one ripped President Barack Obama for doing an end run around the House GOP.

“I would say that we believed that we could have worked with the president, and then the president dropped us like a hot potato, because our deal, he didn’t want to deal with,” said Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions R-Texas. “He wanted to deal with the senators, so that’s what he’s done.”

Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, R-Ill., said there were “a lot of discussions” during the closed-door meeting, and that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the fiscal impasse were resolved by the end of this week.

Republicans are under enormous pressure to find a way out of the shutdown and avert a default after several polls have shown the current situation hurting them much more than the Democrats.

Sessions told reporters as he left Boehner’s office that he expected House members to hear more about the Senate-side talks later on Monday night.

“As soon as we see something in writing, then we will see how we can thoughtfully understand what we’ll do with it,” he said.

Late last week, House Republicans said they felt that Obama was finally listening to them, and that he stood ready to negotiate with them in good-faith. Those feelings have largely diminished, however, as the White House rejected follow-up offers from the House GOP and then turned to the Senate to craft legislation that would be a better deal for the administration.

Under the plan that is emerging from the offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the government would be funded until Jan. 15, 2014, and the debt limit would be extended into February. It would not repeal the medical device tax used to fund elements of the president’s health law, though it could include a requirement that the Health and Human Services Department certify that the agency is able to verify the incomes of those receiving subsidies to buy health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.

That’s a far cry from the once-soaring demands of GOP leaders for major Obamacare concessions, dollar-for-dollar savings and reforms for a debt limit hike, and, at one point over the summer, talk of demanding a balanced budget over the next decade.

At one point on Monday, Boehner visited McConnell’s office for a meeting.

“The speaker went to see Sen. McConnell to get an update on the discussions,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.