House GOP Changes Plan Again

Posted October 15, 2013 at 3:01pm

Updated 3:49 p.m. | House Republican leaders are floating yet another plan to reopen the government and avert default.

According to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the latest plan would drop a demand to delay the medical device tax in Obamacare and drop a demand for income verification under Obamacare. Instead, Republicans would target the health benefits of both lawmakers and congressional staff, as well as political appointees. This iteration of the plan would keep the government running until Dec. 15, instead of Jan. 15.

The latest changes came after the plan presented this morning by Speaker John A. Boehner was panned by many Republicans in his conference.

Republican leadership met in Boehner’s office Tuesday afternoon to discuss next steps, and a House GOP aide said that closed-door discussions were currently focused on two areas that could make the fiscal package more palatable to the rank and file — the so-called Vitter language targeting health benefits and changing the date on the CR.

The school of thought on changing the date is that it would give members another opportunity to force Senate Democrats and the White House to endure negotiations over hot-button items related to the health law.

The individual mandate goes into effect on Jan. 1, as well as a requirement that all employers offer insurance covering contraceptive and reproductive services.

Republicans seemed to have given up on securing any Democratic votes in the House, with Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland saying the GOP proposal leaders offered Tuesday morning was designed to “snatch confrontation from the jaws of reasonable agreement.”

It appears that Republicans are determining whether there is room to send the measure to the Senate with just enough Republican support — and just enough time — that the chamber could pass the legislation and avoid a debt default that the Treasury Department says, absent an agreement, would occur on Oct. 17.

The White House has already rejected the original proposal, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., declared it would not pass the Senate.

Coming out of the meeting, leadership’s plan was unclear.

“There have been no decisions about what exactly we will do,” said Boehner after a nearly two-hour-long conference meeting. “We’re working with our members to find a way forward.”

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said he was not going to “do the play by play.”

“We’re still working through this, and I’m not going to comment on speculation or what is a very fluid situation,” Ryan said.

Many House Republicans were in a similar holding pattern, waiting to see what leadership would ultimately put on the floor before pledging their support or opposition.

“I want to wait and see what the proposal is,” said Justin Amash, R-Mich.