House GOP readies new government shutdown, debt limit plan

<i>This post has been updated. See below for details.</i>

WASHINGTON -- House Republicans, moving to get ahead of a developing bipartisan proposal in the Senate, plan to move their own measure Tuesday to end the standoff over the federal budget.

The House plan would include stronger measures targeting President Obama’s healthcare law, but still represents a major scaling back of GOP demands and may draw opposition from the most conservative Republicans in the chamber.

House Speaker John A. Boehner was to outline the plan in a meeting of the Republican majority Tuesday morning.


The proposal would accept key parameters of the emerging Senate deal - reopening the federal government by extending current spending levels through mid-January, and raising the nation’s debt limit through February.

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But the House plan would add tweaks to the Affordable Care Act. Rather than delay a new tax opposed by labor unions, as the Senate plan would do, the House would delay for some time a tax on medical devices that the law imposes on manufacturers.

Like the Senate plan, the House would add an income verification requirement for customers who buy insurance through the new online marketplaces set up by the health law.

It would also seek to end the government’s payment of its traditional employer’s share of health-insurance premiums for members of Congress and administration officials, who are now required to purchase medical insurance through new exchanges. Democrats have previously rejected that idea, which is popular among Republican activists.

The House plan also would end the Treasury Department’s ability to use so-called “extraordinary measures” to continue financing government debt after the debt limit has been breached.

The House changes are far short of what the party sought at the start of the budget battle, and it is unclear yet whether the scaled-back plan would garner the support of the powerful House conservative bloc.

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“There was a reaction, let’s just leave it at that,” said Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.).

“There will be some in the conference who don’t think this House proposal goes far enough,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), a leading House moderate.

“There are no winners in this process, only losers. The only question is ... Who is losing more?”

The Senate plan negotiated by the chamber’s leaders has yet to be presented to rank-and-file members. That’s expected to occur Tuesday afternoon.

“There are productive negotiations going on with the Republican leader,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said as he opened the chamber. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was not present for the opening.

“I’m confident we’ll be able to reach a comprehensive agreement this week in time to avert a catastrophic default on the nation’s bills,” Reid said.

[Updated, 8:23 a.m. Oct. 15: The White House dismissed the new proposal from House Republicans as a “demand ransom for fulfilling their basic responsibilities to pass a budget and pay the nation’s bills” and “a partisan attempt to appease a small group of tea party Republicans.

“Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have been working in a bipartisan, good-faith effort to end the manufactured crises that have already harmed American families and business owners,” White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said. “With only a couple days remaining until the United States exhausts its borrowing authority, it’s time for the House to do the same.”

President Obama plans to meet with the House Democratic leaders on Tuesday afternoon.]

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