House hopes to move own plan

By Russell Berman – 10/15/13 11:24 AM ET

House Republicans hope to vote Tuesday on a more conservative version of the Senate fiscal deal that would include a delay of ObamaCare’s medical device tax and scrapping of subsidies for members of Congress and top Cabinet officials, lawmakers and aides said.

The bill would modify an emerging Senate plan crafted by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), but retain that deal’s extension of the debt ceiling through Feb. 7.

It would also keep the Senate measure’s plan of funding the government through Jan. 15 and immediately end the shutdown.

That’s a shift from last weekend, when House Republicans wanted to open negotiations with the White House on ending the shutdown while extending the debt ceiling for six weeks.

The House GOP bill would prevent members of Congress, as well as Cabinet members, the president and the vice president from getting taxpayer subsidies to use on ObamaCare, but it would not prevent staff from getting the subsidies.

The healthcare law requires lawmakers and their staffs to get health insurance through ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges.

It was unclear whether House GOP leaders could muster the votes to pass the plan.

GOP leaders have repeatedly struggled to get their members in line on such votes, and conservative members said they wanted changes to the bill, including that subsidies for ObamaCare also be scrapped for staff.

Immediately after a closed-door conference meeting where the bill was discussed, Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) said the House would vote Tuesday on the new plan.

But Boehner later said the House was still deciding its next steps.

The White House quickly rejected the plan, though it did not threaten a veto, and Democrats panned it. That suggests Republicans would have to move it largely on GOP votes.

House Democratic leaders are set to attend a White House meeting on the debt and shutdown talks at 3:15 p.m.

A spokeswoman for the White House said the latest House GOP proposal was a nonstarter.

“The president has said repeatedly that members of Congress don’t get to demand ransom for fulfilling their basic responsibilities to pass a budget and pay the nation’s bills. Unfortunately, the latest proposal from House Republicans does just that in a partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place,” said spokeswoman Amy Brundage.

“Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have been working in a bipartisan, good-faith effort to end the manufactured crises that have already harmed American families and business owners. With only a couple days remaining until the United States exhausts its borrowing authority, it’s time for the House to do the same,” she said.

The Treasury Department has warned it will only have $30 billion on hand as of Thursday, and will be unable to pay all of the nation’s bills without more borrowing.

The bill would also eliminate a provision granted to unions in the Senate bill that would delay a tax on reinsurance that labor says would fall heavily on its members.

Under the healthcare reform law, states are required to set up a transitional reinsurance program aimed at stabilizing premiums. As part of that transition, companies providing healthcare will be required to pay $63 per covered person in 2014, as well as lower fees the following two years.

It would also delay the tax on medical devices in the healthcare law. Reid has pushed aggressively to prevent any delay or repeal of that tax in a deal, according to Senate aides, though many senators oppose the tax.

This story was posted at 9:42 a.m. and updated at 11:24 a.m.


Author: AFGE Local 704

Representing over 900 bargaining unit employees working at the U.S. EPA Region 5 Offices in Chicago, Ann Arbor, MI and Westlake, OH.

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