Vote on GOP Debt Plan Delayed as Deadline To Avoid Default Looms
In an unexpected move, House Republican leaders on Thursday evening canceled a vote on House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) two-step proposal to raise the federal debt ceiling, the New York Times reports (Hulse, New York Times, 7/28).
On Tuesday, Boehner announced that his fiscal year 2012 budget and debt-limit proposal would be revised after the Congressional Budget Office found that it would cut spending by just $850 billion -- or $150 billion less than he had expected -- forcing GOP leaders to delay a vote on the measure.
CBO said on Wednesday in an analysis of the revised proposal that it would generate $917 billion in savings over 10 years, or $67 billion more than the original plan. The agency also said that the modified proposal still would raise the debt ceiling by as much as $2.5 trillion over two stages (California Healthline, 7/27).
Earlier on Thursday, House GOP leaders said they were close to securing enough votes for the revised measure. The party needs 216 GOP votes for passage, as Republicans do not expect any Democratic support for the plan (Schatz/Cohen, CQ Today, 7/28).
However, just before a roll call vote on Boehnerâs plan, Republicans stopped debate on the proposal and began discussing other topics, the Times reports. The chamber later went into recess, during which Boehner met with various GOP holdouts and tried to secure their votes (New York Times, 7/28).
The House Rules Committee convened late Thursday night and approved a rule allowing Republicans to once again revise the proposal and vote on it on Friday (The Hill, 7/29).
Some Republicans also are expecting to vote soon on an amendment to the Constitution that would require a balanced budget, which party leaders promised members as a way to gain votes for Boehner's plan. The vote would consider the amendment separate from the House-passed "cut, cap and balance" measure (HR 2560) (CQ Today, 7/28).
While some consider the latest delay of Boehner's plan a victory for Democrats, it has raised concerns among Senate Democratic leaders and White House officials who have been waiting for the House to act on the plan before moving forward with their own proposals ahead of the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling (New York Times, 7/28).
Obama Will Not Raise Debt Ceiling on his Own
The White House recently said that Obama might not have the authority to raise the debt ceiling on his own and that Congress has the exclusive responsibility, USA Today's "The Oval" reports.
The statement comes after several Democratic lawmakers called on Obama to invoke the 14th amendment and increase the debt limit himself (Jackson, "The Oval," USA Today, 7/28). The amendment states that the validity of the nation's public debt "shall not be questioned" (AP/Washington Post, 7/27).
White House spokesperson Jay Carney said, "Having an esoteric constitutional argument won't resolve the fact that our borrowing authority is due to expire on Aug. 2," adding, "And only Congress has the legal authority to extend that borrowing authority. That's our position" (USA Today, 7/28).
Democrats Consider Debt Compromise
Democrats are considering a debt compromise that would match the two steps of Boehner's proposal, Politico reports.
However, the plan would allow President Obama to increase the debt ceiling on his own if Congress does not pass a broader deficit-reduction package during the second step. The plan would not allow Obama to raise the debt ceiling if two-thirds of both chambers override his veto of a disapproval resolution.
In order to force action on a debt plan, the White House would agree to strengthen the mechanism that prompts Congress to pass recommendations made by a 12-member deficit committee (Budoff Brown, Politico, 7/28).
Seniors Wary of Medicare Cuts in Budget Talks, Poll Finds
Seniors are concerned about the potential effect any budget deal could have on their health coverage, including potential changes to Medicare, according to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive for RetireSafe and the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, Healthcare Finance News reports.
According to the poll, 81% of Medicare beneficiaries said that having to pay more for coverage would cause them either "heavy" or "serious" financial burden (Anderson, Healthcare Finance News, 7/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.