September - October 2008

Troubled Assets Relief Program

The housing boom went bust and financial institutions began to fail.

Proposal

A 106-page bill attaching strings to the $700 billion plan to buy troubled assets. The bill included limiting CEO compensation and increased FDIC protection and a series of tax breaks.

Major players

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio)

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.)

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.)

Critical moment

The House rejected a version of the bailout plan on Sept. 29, 2008, and the Dow plummeted more than 700 points.

Resulting actions

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

February 2009

Stimulus

A sluggish economy and a recession caused the new Obama administration to push an infusion of government capital.

Proposal

A $787 billion American Recovery Act for investment in roads, energy efficiency and jobs. Also included numerous tax cuts for individuals and businesses.

Major players

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)

Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine)

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)

Critical moment

The Senate was held open for five hours as Democrats awaited the arrival of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) from his mother’s memorial service in his home state. Brown returned to Senate floor at 10:45 p.m. to cast the 60th vote, passing the bill.

Resulting actions

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

December 2010

Deal on George W. Bush tax cuts

As the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 were set to expire, Democrats were opposed to extending the entire package while Republicans were adamant that the entire package be kept in tact.

Proposal

Democrat-backed proposals eliminated tax cuts for the 3 million wealthiest taxpayers, while Republican-backed proposals extended all the cuts.

Major players

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Vice President Joe Biden

Critical moment

Biden returned to the Hill to negotiate with McConnell. The two men worked out a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years.

Resulting actions

Bush tax cuts were extended two more years, setting up the “fiscal cliff” of 2012.

2011

Debt ceiling fight

The vote for the debt ceiling used to be a routine vote until a newly elected House Republican majority decided to use it as leverage for spending cuts.

Proposal

The so-called “grand bargain,” which included $1.2 trillion in agency cuts, smaller cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients, nearly $250 billion in Medicare savings by increasing the age of eligibility and $800 billion in new taxes.

Major players

Vice President Joe Biden

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

Critical moment

The grand bargain fell apart after the Obama-Boehner talks were leaked. Biden and McConnell reunited to broker a stopgap funding measure to raise the debt ceiling. The measure included mandatory, across-the-board sequester cuts totaling nearly $1 trillion that would go into effect in 2013 if Congress did not agree on a more structured deficit reduction plan.

Resulting actions

The sequester was implemented and the debt ceiling was raised.

December 2012 - Jan. 1, 2013

“Fiscal cliff”

The Bush tax cuts were set to expire and the automatic spending cuts were going to be triggered without congressional action.

Proposal

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Presidnt Obama try to craft another grand bargain but failed when the two leaders could not meet in the middle.

Major players

Boehner

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)

Vice President Joe Biden

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)

Critical moment

Biden and McConnell reunite for a third time to hammer out a deal in the 11th hour.

Resulting actions

Bush tax cuts were extended to all but the wealthiest Americans, unemployment benefits were extended and sequester cuts to the Pentagon were delayed until March 2013.

September - October 2013

Shutdown/debt ceiling negotiations

After several weeks of attempts by House Republican to tie the continuing resolution to fund the government to delaying or defunding the Affordable Care Act, only to be rebuffed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, the government shut down. As the two bodies struggled to find a solution to reopen the government, an arguably more consquential deadline to raise the debt ceiling looms.

Proposal

Initially House Republicans were set on defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act by adding an amendment to the continuing resolution, though Senate Democrats repeatedly demanded a “clean” CR. In later versions of the bill, the House was tied to barring lawmakers and their staff from receiving government healthcare subsidies, and repealing the medical device tax.

Major players

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

Critical moment

Yet to be determined.

Resulting actions

Yet to be determined.

SOURCE: Staff reports.