The next move for House Republicans in the government shutdown/debt ceiling fight is asking for a bicameral, bipartisan committee to hash out a deal to raise the debt ceiling, in exchange for spending reforms. A similar group created by the 2011 Budget Control Act failed to craft a long-term deficit reduction deal that both sides found desirable.
So think of this as a zombie supercommittee.
Details are lacking, and no legislation has actually been drafted yet. But a new supercommittee is the centerpiece of the GOP’s latest effort to bring President Obama to the negotiating table. Any deal would also presumably re-open the government shutdown, though that isn’t a guarantee.
The House will also propose a bill to pay working essential employees as regularly scheduled, rather than waiting until the end of the government shutdown. But here’s the GOP’s latest procedural trick: The committee and employee pay bills will be combined after they pass the House and then be sent to the Senate. The thinking is that it would be harder for Senate Democrats to deny paychecks for their employees just to spite the House.
Though the prospect of a short-term debt-limit hike was floated in the media Tuesday morning, House Republicans believe there is still enough time for the committee to work out a deal before Oct. 17, when the debt ceiling will be reached.
House GOP leadership didn’t formally introduce the plan after the conference meeting, but they repeated the need for Obama to come to the table to avert economic disaster.
“Refusing to negotiate is an untenable position. And frankly, by refusing to negotiate, Harry Reid and the president are putting our country on a pretty dangerous path,” Speaker John Boehner told reporters. “The way to resolve this is to sit down and have a conversation to resolve our differences.”
Boehner didn’t have a specific list of demands that he wanted the president to accept in order to lift the debt ceiling.
“I want to have a conversation. I’m not drawing any lines in the sand,” he said. “There’s no boundaries here. There’s nothing on the table. There’s nothing off the table.”
The White House has consistently said that the president won’t negotiate over raising the debt limit. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has also refused to entertain any kind of concessions in exchange for the increase.
Instead, they’ve said, House Republicans must re-open the government and take the country off a path to default. Then both sides can have a conversation about long-term spending.
UPDATE, 11:55 a.m. ET
The draft legislation has been released. The full language can be found here.
The committee would have 20 members, 10 from each chamber. The minority party in each chamber would be able to recommend four members, respectively.
The committee would meet each calendar day after its creation. It would be tasked with setting spending levels for the next fiscal year, lifting the debt limit and reforming spending programs.
The committee would make recommendations, but a House leadership aide stressed to TPM that its recommendations would not be legally binding, as the supercommittee’s were to be.
Image provided by Shutterstock/Jeff Thrower.
Correction: This story originally reported that the committee’s recommendations must be approved by a majority of the majority members from each chamber. That was in error. The draft bill says that recomendations must be approved by “a majority of the members appointed by both the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the majority leader of the Senate.”