Using Senate rules permitting him to change the wording of a spending measure approved by the House last week, Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to strip out language that would defund the law, change the expiration date on the funding bill to Nov. 15, and pass the measure with a simple majority achieved entirely with Democratic votes.
Once the bill returns to the House, any move to change it would by necessity mean that the fight over funding the government would almost certainly continue at least until the final minutes of the fiscal year late on Monday night since the Senate’s arcane, time-sensitive rules would make swift consideration unlikely.
Boehner’s tough words on the spending bill came as he and his lieutenants were still working to find a way past the immediate crisis by shifting their attention to the next fight over raising the nation’s debt ceiling. The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the nation is likely to exceed its borrowing authority on Oct. 17 — meaning an even more nerve-wracking deadline is just around the corner.
In response, House Republicans were working to unveil a bill that would tie an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit to a wish list of conservative priorities, including a one-year delay of the implementation of Obamacare. The bill was intended as a way to avert the shutdown by becoming the new weapon for continuing the assault on Obamacare, allowing Republicans to abandon the fight against the clean government funding bill that the Senate will pass.
By late Thursday afternoon, however, Boehner had convened his leadership team in the speaker’s office to try to hash out the next strategic steps amid signs of trouble in rounding up enough votes to pass the new GOP debt ceiling bill. It was not clear Boehner will be able to get the support from conservatives needed to pass that bill before the deadline for the continuing resolution.
GOP leaders began outlining their debt ceiling proposal at the weekly closed-door meeting with rank-and-file Republicans.
But speaking Thursday at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Md., Obama warned that he will not accept delays to the health-care program’s taxes, mandates and benefits in return for raising the debt ceiling next month. He said Republicans “have just spun themselves up over this issue.”
“The closer we’ve gotten to this date, the more irresponsible people opposed to this law have become,” Obama said, referring to the Oct. 1 start of enrollment in the program’s new health-insurance plans.
“The Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” Obama said, stressing that he would not negotiate delays or other changes to the law as part of budget talks or the debt-ceiling process.