September 29, 2013
Early Sunday morning, the House passed a spending plan that delays Obamacare by a year, keeps the government open, and almost definitely will not make it through the Senate. If the House and Senate can't find a way to fund the government by Monday night, the government will shut down.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., didn't give much hope for a resolution on Sunday morning.
While McCarthy kept up the idea that the Senate actually could pass the House continuing resolution on Fox News Sunday, he gave host Chris Wallace some answers about what he thinks will happen if the Senate sends the CR back to the House, without an Obamacare delay or a medical device tax repeal. "I think the House will get back together and in enough time send another provision not to shut the government down but to fund it," McCarthy said, "and it'll have a few other options in there for the Senate to look at again."
Those "few other options" suggest that, at least right now, the House GOP leadership is not considering passing a "clean" CR—a plan that funds the government and doesn't touch Obamacare or anything else. If the Senate knocks down the House CR, McCarthy said, the House will pass a bill on Monday "that will keep the government open, that will reflect the House, that I believe the Senate can accept. That will have fundamental changes into Obamacare that will protect the economy for America."
Those "fundamental changes" have a few obvious possibilities. The House could pass a CR that includes just a medical device tax repeal, or an individual-mandate delay. Or, as National Review's Robert Costa reported on Saturday, it could include a version of the Vitter amendment, which wouldeliminate health care subsidies for members of Congress, their staff, and members of the executive branch.
Right now, it's hard to see how a House CR that includes any of these provisions could hold off a government shutdown. The Senate and White House are virtually sure to refuse a CR that includes an individual mandate delay, and a medical device tax repeal—which would cost $29 billion over a decade according to the Congressional Budget Office—could be a tough climb there as well.
It's not even clear that these "fundamental changes" would be able to get through the House, as powerful conservative groups like Heritage Action are already coming out and saying that they wouldn't support something like a medical device tax repeal, as it would "do nothing to prevent the law's entitlements from taking root and continues funding Obamacare in its entirety."
McCarthy did leave the door open for a possible short-term CR that would prevent the government from shutting down come Oct. 1, if only for a few days. "We will not shut the government down," McCarthy said. "If we need to negotiate a little longer, we will negotiate."
We'll see how that works out, or if that's, again, something that could even make it through the House. Right now, the odds of a shutdown are looking pretty good.
September 29, 2013