Published September 18, 2013
Calls for a last-minute compromise continue to reverberate in Washington as the U.S. inches closer to the end of its fiscal year on September 30, and the threat of a government shutdown looms overhead.
On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the chamber would move forward with a continuing resolution proposal – but with one major sticking point for Democrats over in the Senate: The House will tie its deal to a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature piece of legislation.
A vote on the CR in the House could come as early as Friday, before the body adjourns for a two-day break next week, returning at 2 p.m. on Wednesday for legislative business. The majority leader advised members the House would be in session for the remainder of next week and through the weekend until a CR is completed.
In closed-door remarks on the Hill on Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner said he anticipates passage of the resolution in his Republican-controlled body, according to a source familiar with remarks in the room. However, Boehner said the real fight is in the Senate, where the CR likely faces an imminent death.
“On every major issue we’ve faced for the past two and a half years, the math has been the same. House Republicans either find a way together to get to 218, or the Democrats who run the rest of Washington essentially get everything they want,” Boehner said.
The House’s proposal to keep the government’s lights on through the end of the year would fund the government through December 15 at its current level of $986.3 billion. It would also add a full faith and credit act to the CR requiring Treasury to make good on public debt payments should Congress fail to increase the borrowing limit by its mid-October deadline. Finally, the stickiest point of contention, the resolution would also fully de-fund ObamaCare.
But not all House members are on board with the proposal. Some of the GOP’s Democratic counterparts fully reject the idea, saying it could create a catastrophic mess. Xavier Becerra, the House Democratic Caucus Chair, said now is not the time to play political chicken with the nation’s finances.
“(It’s) gimmicks, game playing, dirtying waters - once again we see other side of aisle making it very difficult to proceed. Manufacturing crisis and inserting social agenda on what should be a fiscal matter."
Becerra added his side of the aisle would be willing to look at a “clean bill” aimed at keeping the economy moving and the government open.
And not all House Republicans are on the speaker’s side, either. Kentucky Representative Thomas Massiee said he doesn’t plan to support this proposal.
"I'll be able to explain to the 723,000 people I represent why I voted that way,” he said.
All the chatter, uncertainty, and lack of negotiations in Washington adds to mounting pressure on Main Street as analysts wonder whether, this time, Congress will actually allow a government shutdown. In fact, in a sign of just how real the prospect are, the White House has started advising federal agencies to make plans to prepare for a shutdown, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
“GOP leaders have to realize that their quixotic attempt to kill ObamaCare is bound to fail… With Social Security and military checks coming into play, this could lead to public revulsion deeper than when Newt Gingrich forced a government shutdown in late 1995 and early 1996,” Potomac Research Group said in a note to clients Wednesday morning.
Still, the research group noted it’s still early in the game and though Congress and the president refuse to negotiate, discussions to come to some kind of agreement are likely still on the horizon.
“It's striking that neither party, nor the White House, are even talking about a deal (and it's worth noting that Democrats aren't on the same page, with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer demanding that a continuing spending resolution also end the sequester, which is not a tactic all of his colleagues support)," PRG wrote.
If the CR to fund the government through most of December wasn’t enough pressure, Washington is still under the gun to find agreement on whether to increase the debt ceiling by mid-October. If no negotiations come to fruition, the nation will begin to default on its financial obligations, the Treasury Department has said.
FOX Business' Rich Edson contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.