Sunday, March 9, 2014
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
House Speaker John Boehner Ohio, followed by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., the Republican Conference chair, arrives to meet with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, after a closed-door strategy session. Pressure is building on fractious Republicans over legislation to prevent a partial government shutdown, as the Democratic-led Senate is expected to strip a tea party-backed plan to defund the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as "Obamacare," from their bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Responding to Obama's non-negotiable stand, Boehner said, "Well, I'm sorry but it just doesn't work that way."
Meeting behind closed doors, House Republican leaders encountered resistance from their rank and file over the debt limit measure even though they were attaching a list of other Republican favorites such as green-lighting the Keystone XL oil pipeline, blocking federal regulation of greenhouse gases and boosting offshore oil exploration.
Republicans who lost the presidential election and a shot at Senate control last year are trying to use must-pass measures to advance agenda items that the Democratic-led Senate and Obama have soundly rejected. The last-ditch effort on "Obamacare" comes just days before coast-to-coast enrollment in the plan's health care exchanges begins Oct. 1.
Despite the popular items, the leadership was struggling to win over its recalcitrant GOP members, especially tea party-backed lawmakers pressing for deeper, deficit-cutting spending measures. The spending cuts the Republicans would attach to the debt-limit legislation would be likely to represent a small fraction of the almost $1 trillion in new borrowing authority the bill would permit.
"Among conservatives, there's a lot of angst about that," said Rep. John Fleming, R-La.
Proposed changes include requiring federal workers to contribute more to their pensions, along with other items from a failed 2011 deficit-cutting effort.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, insisted that the House accept the Senate bill.
"Republicans have got to put an end to the tea party temper tantrums and pass our bill without any gimmicks and without any games," she said.
In the Senate, top Democrat Reid sought to schedule a series of votes Thursday night to speed the short-term spending bill to the House. Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, blocked the effort, however, saying they wanted the vote on Friday.
Cruz gave a 21 hour-plus speech earlier this week opposing the measure if it is changed to remove the anti-Obamacare provisions. Reid's request sparked a remarkable exchange between Cruz and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who accused the tea party duo of being publicity hounds who want a Friday vote because that's what they've told outside activists to expect.
"My two colleagues, who I respect, have sent out emails around the world and turned this into a show," Corker said, his voice dripping with derision. "And that is taking priority over getting legislation back to the House so they can take action before the country's government shuts down."