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Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (right) walk to a meeting of House Republicans at the Capitol.
Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite
Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (right) walk to a meeting of House Republicans at the Capitol.

Lawmakers continue shutdown negotiation slog

Government | The House will vote tonight on a compromise measure, but universal agreement remains elusive

UPDATE (8 p.m. EDT): Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives canceled tonight’s vote on a deal that would have funded the government through Dec. 15 and extended the debt ceiling through Feb. 7. 

House Speaker John Boehner can only afford to lose 15 votes if House Democrats uniformly oppose the measure—as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says they will—and too many Republicans are concerned the bill would do nothing more than hurt their own staffers in exchange for meeting the Democrats’ demands.

It’s unclear who in the caucus ever supported Boehner’s plan, but Republicans are holding internal talks tonight to find common ground. If the House can’t agree on what it wants, it may be pushed into vote on a Senate plan: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have now re-engaged on negotiations to end the stalemate. 

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EARLIER STORY: WASHINGTON—Lawmakers remain mired in tedious negotiations as they struggle to approve even a short-term deal to end the partial government shutdown and raise the nation’s debt limit before Thursday’s Treasury Department deadline. 

Tuesday featured a roller coaster of developments: Senate leaders appeared close to a deal early in the day, but it fell through before fully materializing. Even so, it would have been a long shot in the Republican-controlled House, where conservative lawmakers contend Democrats aren’t making any concessions. 

Many viewed a medical device tax repeal as the possible key to negotiations because members of both parties want to do away with it, but it was reportedly taken off the table Tuesday afternoon since it’s part of the president’s healthcare law. 

In the House, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, laid out his own plan Tuesday morning, but it failed to generate notable support among conservatives. Still, Boehner pushed forward, saying the House will vote tonight on a bill to repeal Obamacare subsidies for members of Congress and their staffs and fund the government through Dec. 15.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, denounced the proposal because it does not defund or delay Obamacare, does not include conscience protections, and does not address abortion subsidies. 

“Since this ‘deal’ accomplishes none of these goals, we urge opposition to it,” Perkins said. “[It] does nothing for fairness for families.”

Heritage Action, the political arm of The Heritage Foundation, also urged Republicans to vote against the measure.

Democrats continue to maintain that they shouldn’t have to negotiate anything to raise the debt ceiling, even though a Fox News poll conducted this month found 62 percent of Americans think major spending cuts should accompany a debt limit increase. Only 27 percent want the debt ceiling raised without changes. 

The Treasury Department says the United States will be in danger of default if its borrowing limit isn’t increased by Thursday, but there remains significant debate about exactly what, if anything, will happen. 

Last week, Moody’s Investors Service, a leading U.S. credit-rating agency, sent a letter to lawmakers saying the nation’s creditworthiness would remain intact even if it hits the debt ceiling: “The debt limit restricts government expenditures to the amount of its incoming revenues; it does not prohibit the government from servicing its debt,” the memo said. “There is no direct connection between the debt limit (actually the exhaustion of the Treasury’s extraordinary measures to raise funds) and a default.”

But President Barack Obama insists that not raising the debt limit will bring “economic chaos.” Adding drama to tonight’s vote, Fitch, another credit-rating agency, put the United States on a negative watch late Tuesday while maintaining the nation’s AAA rating.

J.C. Derrick
J.C. Derrick

J.C. is a reporter in WORLD's Washington Bureau. He spent 10 years covering sports, higher education, and politics for the Longview News-Journal and other newspapers in Texas before joining WORLD in 2012. Follow J.C. on Twitter @jcderrick1.

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