Tue October 15, 2013
House GOP To Propose Plan To Reopen Government
Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 8:12 am
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This morning began with the U.S. Senate appearing close to a deal that could solve two problems at once: end the government shutdown and prevent a default on U.S. debt. The solution would only be temporary, bringing another set of confrontations soon. There's bipartisan support for the deal in that chamber. The question was whether the Republican-led House would sign on. Well, the answer came a short while ago, with reports that House Republicans are pushing their own plan, one that changes the president's health care law, something the White House says is a non-starter. Let's bring in NPR's Tamara Keith, who joins us from the Capitol.
Tam, good morning.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.
GREENE: So, what exactly would this House version do to Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act?
KEITH: In terms of Obamacare, it makes changes to the Senate plan. So, instead of what the Senate was doing, it would delay the medical devices tax for two years. This is something that they've been targeting recently, and has some Democratic support. And it also includes something called the Vitter amendment, which would take away the employer match - which has sometimes been described as a taxpayer subsidy - from the health care that members of Congress and Executive Branch employees get. Notably, it does not take away the employer match from Hill staffers, which is something that, in the past, has been part of this amendment.
GREENE: But this is something that, if you take it away, Republicans who support taking it away said it would both save money and make things more fair, that these people would be treated like other Americans. But a lot of Democrats have said this is a political move by Republicans.
KEITH: And, in fact, have said it's the employer match. Why would you take that away?
GREENE: Well, health care provisions aside, Tamara, do these two bills - the one in the House and the one in the Senate - seek to do the same thing when it comes to the partial government shutdown and the debt ceiling deadline that's looming?
KEITH: Yes. They have the same date. So it would reopen the government through the middle of January. It would lift the debt ceiling through early February, though the House version would make that a hard stop and not allow the Treasury to use any extraordinary measures to extend it. And it also would set up a House-Senate conference committee to talk about larger budget issues and hopefully bring an end to all this back-and-forth fighting that we've had for years.
GREENE: Well, Speaker John Boehner and his leadership have had trouble getting the Tea Party conservatives in his party to go along with a number of bills this year. Do they think that this one that they've come up with this morning could pass the House?
KEITH: I can tell you that they are speaking right now, and I am quite certain that they are expressing confidence. However, as I stood outside of this closed-door meeting where they unveiled their plan to the rank-and-file, a number of House Republicans came out and said, oh, we don't really like this thing. It doesn't really do that much. Others came out and said they were confident. So it's a real mix. I asked Darrell Issa, who's a California Republican, whether there was unanimous support for this in the conference, and he said: We're Republicans. We don't do unanimous support.
GREENE: Wow, that - well, that's telling. So the ones who say it doesn't do enough, that they want more changes to the Affordable Care Act, probably.
KEITH: Exactly. They feel like this just does not - you're not doing this much, here. You're nibbling around the edges. These are folks who want the law to go away.
GREENE: And in the bit of time we have left, any word yet from the White House and Democrats as to whether they could swallow any of these types of changes to Obamacare that are being proposed?
KEITH: The White House issued a statement that was not very favorable, and Senate - or, House Democrats are going to be meeting at the White House with the president later today. One high-ranking Democrat put out a tweet saying that this is reckless.
GREENE: All right. NPR's Tamara Keith, joining us from Capitol. Tamara, thank you.
KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.