McCarthy predicted that the House will “send another provision not to shut the government down but to fund it. And it will have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at.”
Unlike other budget crises of the past three years, this one was unfolding in slow motion. The halls of the Capitol were dark Sunday. There were no negotiations, and neither the House nor the Senate was in session.
The next move belonged to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who has vowed to reject measures the House approved early Sunday to delay the health law for one year, repeal a tax on medical devices and guarantee that paychecks are sent to active-duty military service members, even in the event of a shutdown.
Senators are hardly rushing back to Washington. They are not due at the Capitol until lunchtime Monday, when Reid will move to table the House amendments. That exercise requires a simple majority and can be accomplished solely with Democratic votes.
By midafternoon, House GOP leaders are likely to again be facing a decision about how to handle the simple six-week government funding bill the Senate approved last week.
On Sunday, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) fumed about Reid’s lack of urgency. “If the Senate stalls until Monday afternoon . . . it would be an act of breathtaking arrogance,” Boehner said in a written statement.
Behind the scenes, however, House Republicans still had not figured out how to respond.
Among the options, according to senior GOP aides:
●Trying again to repeal the medical-device tax. The tax, a 2.3 percent levy on sales of medical devices such as hip implants and defibrillators, is projected to raise about $30 billion over the next decade to help cover the cost of expanding health-insurance coverage.
Device manufacturers have complained, and neither party is wild about the tax. Early Sunday, 17 Democrats voted with House Republicans to repeal it. Earlier this year, the Senate voted 79 to 20 to repeal and replace it.
Still, repealing the tax would not stab at the heart of the health-care law, and it is not clear how much support the strategy would muster among House conservatives. Meanwhile, even many Democrats who have campaigned against the tax say they will not break ranks on the government-funding bill.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), for example, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he is willing to discuss the tax, but “not with a gun to my head, not with the prospect of shutting down the government.”