In an unexpected twist, the political world starts today with circumstances that look eerily similar to those from 24 hours ago: a bipartisan Senate deal is taking shape and a fractured House remains unpredictable. The point of yesterday, apparently, was to waste a day, humiliate House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and bring the nation just a little closer to default.
After House Republicans rejected a series of desperate attempts by Boehner to make them happy, attention turned back to the Senate, which waited until after the lower chamber imploded to renew its talks. By all appearances, the basic framework of an agreement is in place.
The Senate’s leaders appear to have a path forward on a legislative package to avert a default and reopen the government, but a lot of staff work remains before reaching the finish line. […]
To that end, senior aides from the Budget and Appropriations committees, as well as others, were seen in the vicinity of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s second floor suite.
The blueprint hasn’t changed much since Monday night: the shutdown would end and the government would be funded through Jan. 15, 2014; the debt ceiling would be extended to Feb. 7, 2014; and budget talks would begin with instructions to work out a deal by Dec. 13. The only health care measure would be a provision on income verification, which Republicans like and about which Democrats are largely indifferent.
Politico, citing Hill sources, said the deal “is essentially done.” A vote would come later today.
In theory, success in the upper chamber could come easily, though Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) or others of his ilk could cause trouble if they choose to. Once Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accept the framework, they’ll seek unanimous consent to bring the package to the floor. If Cruz or anyone else objects, the vote would be delayed until Friday – the day after the Treasury Department’s debt-ceiling deadline.
If the Senate’s far-right contingent is feeling generous and allows a vote, the bill should pass the upper chamber with bipartisan support. And what of the House? Sam Stein reported an interesting detail last night:
The office of House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) told the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday night that the House would be willing to send the Senate a “message” to speed the procedural process of getting a debt limit and government funding bill.
The communication between the offices of the two leaders was first reported by Salon’s Brian Beutler and was confirmed to The Huffington Post by an aide. The aide said the news was delivered after House Republican leaders failed to move their own bill to resolve the standoff…. The news signals that Boehner knows the time for staring down the Senate is up.
That last point couldn’t be more important. By all appearances, Boehner saw yesterday as his last chance to play debt-ceiling games, and his efforts failed spectacularly – he just couldn’t get his own members to follow his lead. The Speaker may yet try some last-minute scheme, but reports indicate he’s prepared to just bring the Senate proposal to the floor and end the nightmare, at least until the new year.