As we move toward final passage of the debt-ceiling bill, detail are filtering out about how the deal has been coming together.
The role of national security, as Right Turn reported on Sunday, was the final stumbling block. House sources confirm that national security cuts were the very last thing decided on, and that the agreement wasn’t reached until President Obama called Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) at 8:15 p.m. Sunday night. According to a GOP aide familiar with the negotiations, when Obama did call he told the speaker that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had accepted the deal. He didn’t say “I accept.” Even at the end, Obama couldn’t bring himself to tell Boehner directly that he too had capitulated to nearly every demand of the Republicans.
Meanwhile, speculation is rampant about who will be named to the ”supercommittee.” When I asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office over the weekend if he had his list, I was told that McConnell emphatically believed that this would be the best opportunity for real entitlement reform and wanted to carefully consider his picks. Today, rumors circulated that the senators voting no on the debt-ceiling deal would be ineligible for the committee. McConnell communications director Don Stewart firmly denied that ny decision had been made. He told me, “No one is stronger in his opposition to tax hikes than Sen. McConnell. He will have serious discussions with all those who are interested in serving prior to making any appointments.”
Now, in the end, I am certain that McConnell will select tough but serious people. There would be no point in selecting senators who lack credibility with conservatives or those who will force a stalemate and usher in across-the-board sequestration. In fact, in some ways the selection will tell his party and the country who are the most effective conservatives in the Senate.