WASHINGTON -- Congressional leaders, seeking to speed a budget agreement to President Obama’s desk, may adopt an unusual procedure in which the House will vote first on a compromise written in the Senate, officials said Wednesday.
Having the House take up the budget deal crafted by the top two Senate leaders would limit the ability of tea party-backed senators to slow the bill down when it returned to their chamber.
By allowing the House to move first, the parliamentary maneuver also could ease the psychic pain for House Republicans, who will be asked to swallow a deal that they had no hand in crafting and that many oppose.
The deal is expected to receive Democratic votes, offsetting likely GOP defections.
[Updated, 8:31 a.m. PDT Oct. 16: Moving the deal through the House first will not be necessary if senators can reach unanimous agreement to expedite the measure. Senate leaders were discussing that with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has led efforts to block funding for government agencies. They were hoping to convince Cruz not to attempt to filibuster the deal or use other parliamentary maneuvers to slow it down.]
Embattled House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had to abandon his own proposal Tuesday after failing to win support from the majority’s conservative wing.
The Senate blueprint from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was not yet final, but was expected Wednesday.
At a morning meeting of House GOP leaders, no final decision was made about whether they will vote first on the Senate deal, a senior House leadership aide said.
Among the factors guiding that decision will be what process allows the bill to move fastest, and how rank-and-file members respond, the aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door meeting.
Congress is racing the clock to approve a budget package to raise the nation’s borrowing limit before Thursday or risk a deeply damaging debt default if the Treasury cannot pay the bills. It also wants to reopen the government, which has been shut down for two weeks over the spending disputes.
The Senate leaders’ emerging agreement would reopen the government through mid-January and raise the debt limit through Feb. 7. The Senate is scheduled to convene at noon EDT.