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Senate Dems Reject GOP Supercommittee 'Gimmick'

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AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Throughout the standoffs since the government shut down on Oct. 1 and before the upcoming debt ceiling deadline, Democrats have been emphatic that they will not accede to any GOP demands for the mere purpose of averting fiscal disaster. They aren't blinking.

"If this is a joke, the American people aren't laughing," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a Democratic leadership member, chair of the Budget Committee and erstwhile co-chair of the 2011 supercommittee. "This Republican gimmick is intended to keep two crises going while they again refuse to make any concessions."

Instead, Senate Democrats intend to proceed with their plan to vote on a "clean" debt limit increase that lasts through the 2014 elections. Schumer said the bill would be introduced Tuesday and move forward as fast as possible in the notoriously slow Senate.

"We'll see how much delay the Ted Cruzes of the world impose on us," he said. "If they use every procedural device at their fingertips, we'd get to vote next Wednesday." Schumer said leadership hasn't started courting the votes but "I can't believe that Republicans are willing to risk default so I am optimistic we'll get more than six" GOP senators and "just about every Democrat" to help break a likely filibuster.

"I think in the next week, you're going to hear Wall Street and the business community really come down hard on this place. They won't have an effect on the tea party people but they will have an effect on mainstream Republicans," Schumer told reporters. "I think it's going to get overwhelming how bad this is."

Although Senate Democrats nixed the supercommittee plan, their response suggests the GOP is moving closer to a fig leaf that involves instructions to look for fiscal reforms in order to resolve the crises. Their current offer makes negotiations a prerequisite, but if it wasn't, Democrats say they would agree to work out a longer-term solution.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) held firm, telling reporters in the afternoon that a clean debt limit increase would amount to "unconditional surrender" for Republicans.

"That's not the way our government works," he said. "At times like this, the American people expect their leaders to sit down and have a conversation. I want that conversation to occur now."

President Barack Obama reiterated during a press conference Tuesday that lifting the debt ceiling is non-negotiable, but he'll gladly negotiate on budget issues after default is averted.

"I'm not going to breach a basic principle that would weaken the presidency, change our democracy, and do great damage to ordinary people just in order to go along with what the house republicans are talking about," the president said.

About The Author

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Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.