The PJ Tatler

Reid Rejects Collins Plan While House Republicans Stew

No short term debt deal, says Obama. Harry Reid says no deal based on Maine Senator Susan Collin’s plan to re-open government for 6 months, raise the debt limit through January, and negotiate budget and entitlement reforms.

It should be clear to just about anyone over the age of 5 at this point that the Democrats want total, abject surrender by Republicans. And Obama has shut down negotiations with the House, searching for more malleable partners in the Senate who are more of a mind to give a lot to get very little.

Minority Leader McConnell and Majority Leader Reid are currently locked in negotiations. At the moment, all Republican plans in both Houses of Congress have been rejected by Democrats. We’re back to square one and the clock is ticking.

I don’t think there’s any question that this is not going to turn out well for the GOP. There is precious little time left to get anything done and the chances of turning out a clean debt limit increase longer than a few months appear to be growing — at least in the Senate.

Will it fly in the House? Probably not with a majority of Republicans. But McConnell needs only 16 or so apostates to prevent default and there are easily that many skittish Republican congressmen who would vote for anything that kept the country from running through the debt ceiling.


Moreover, Democrats are calling for a longer-term budget deal that would raise the debt ceiling and extend government funding. And they said that agreeing to a shorter-term budget deal and a lower funding level — with a handful of changes to Obamacare — was asking too much after they have called for a “clean” increase to the $16.7 trillion national debt ceiling and a stop-gap measure to keep the government running.

This means that there is little time for the two sides to reach a deal — and the talks may now shift to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to try to find a way out of the crisis now that the House Republicans have hit an impasse with the White House. Reid and McConnell met Saturday morning.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said McConnell briefed GOP senators on the status of those discussions but did not offer further details.

“Mitch and Harry are involved in negotiations and all of us want to support those,” Corker said following a closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans. “It’s very evident the White House is not going to be involved in the negotiations, at least at this point they’re, and the centerpiece is Reid and McConnell.”

(Also on POLITICO: House takes back seat after W.H. rejects budget plan)

Asked about the Collins plan, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the problem was that Republicans couldn’t agree among themselves.

“We don’t have an agreement, until we do it’s all speculative,” Durbin said Saturday.

Meanshile, Rep. Paul Ryan lashed out at the Republican Senate for upstaging the House in the negotiations:

“They’re trying to cut the House out, and trying to jam us with the Senate. We’re not going to roll over and take that,” Ryan told reporters. When asked if he felt “double crossed,” Ryan said “you look at the facts and draw your own conclusions.”

Senate Republicans, led by Senator Susan Collins of Maine, are negotiating with Democrats on a package to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling into next year with relatively modest concessions for the GOP.

Ryan said House Republicans only learned the details about the plan this morning, and added that he strenuously objects to it. When asked which parts of the plan he has a problem with, Ryan said there are “too many to go into.”

One of the most significant differences between a House framework sent to the White House late Thursday and Collins’s plan is the length of time it would extend the debt ceiling. Boehner has put forward a six-week extension, while Collins’ plan has been reported to extend almost until February 2014.

At a closed-door meeting with House Republicans minutes earlier, Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor offered a similar message to their colleagues.

“We need Senate Republicans to stand up and stand firm,” Cantor said, according to a person in the room.

Boehner said that in talks between the two sides, Obama had agreed to nothing and the House would be holding its position for now.

House-Senate relations are often tense, but Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell are often said to have a very close working relationship. In several other showdowns with Obama, McConnell and Senate Republicans have embraced legislation opposed by most House Republicans. But many in the Capitol speculated that McConnell’s actions were done with Boehner’s approval, even if tacit.

In this case, Ryan’s and Cantor’s words suggest the rift is significant.

Boehner gets no respect from most of his caucus which makes it difficult to conduct negotiations. McConnell isn’t much better but can be counted on bringing most GOP Senators along with him. Cantor and Beohner may hope that Senate Republicans “stand firm,” but that’s a chimera. Stand firm for what? What’s the plan? What’s the strategy? Since House Republicans are similarly handicapped, Reid may be in a position to literally dictate his terms, perhaps throwing a bone so that McConnell can save face.

No such favors for Boehner and House Republicans will be forthcoming. Democrats are furious with the House GOP and would enjoy watching them be humiliated by a total walkback from their previous positions.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member