Debt Ceiling Done

The Senate passed the debt ceiling bill, 55-43.

The procedural vote to move the bill forward took an hour as they were having trouble getting to 60.  Eventually, 12 Republicans joined with all 55 Dems, so that there were 67 votes to end the filibuster.  Despite the primary challenges they face, both Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Cornyn of Texas were among the 12..

Don’t Gloat

GOP House Speaker John Boehner is going to bring a “clean” debt ceiling bill up for a vote tonight.  He’s counting on almost all Dem support to pass it, with maybe 16-20 Republicans.

Meanwhile, Heritage Action and Club for Growth are telling members to vote no and promising to “score” the vote, which means it will count against them in their final grade if they vote yes.  The Senate Conservatives Fund (an outside Tea Party group, not an official Senate group) is calling for Boehner to be replaced as Speaker.  I guess they’d rather have the world financial system collapse.  It does feel as if we now have three major parties — Democrats, Republicans, and Anarchists.

Nancy Pelosi told House Dems “don’t gloat.”  With the complete impasse on minimum wage, unemployment benefits, tweaking Obamacare, equal pay for women, job equality for gays, immigration, etc., there’s really nothing to gloat over.

So Here’s the Deal

This is the final deal Reid and McConnell negotiated:

The government will be funded until January 15.  The debt ceiling is raised until February 7.

There will be income verification for those getting subsidies under Obamacare.

There will be yet another committee appointed to negotiate a budget for the rest of the fiscal year that ends September 30, 2014.  It must report back by December 13.  Good luck with that.

Treasury is allowed to use “extraordinary measures” to delay hitting the new debt ceiling.  They’ve been using such measures this time around since May, when they technically ran out of money.

Agency heads don’t have flexibility to move money around to deal with the sequester.

The Senate will vote first.  Boehner has indicated he will bring it to the floor of the House even if it’s not supported by a majority of the GOP majority.  We should be able to get both houses to vote and the Prez to sign by midnight.

House Plan Dead, Ball in Senate’s Court

The House plan the Senate was waiting for is dead.  Heritage Action helped scuttle it by urging a “no” vote and saying it would grade members on their vote.  Tea Party members opposed it because they won’t give up on their Obamacare battle.  Earth to Tea Party House members:  you lost.

Action is back to the Senate, where they are close to a deal.  We need to get something out of the Senate and bring it to the floor of the House.

Fitch Ratings has threatened a downgrade because of the “political brinksmanship.”

Where We Are

Surprise, surprise, the House GOP doesn’t like the Senate plan, so they’ve come up with their own — they would re-open the government through December 15 (which is a month less than the Senate plan and makes retailers want to shoot themselves because of the chilling effect on Christmas shopping) and raise the debt ceiling until February 7, which is like the Senate plan.  But, unlike the Senate plan, they won’t allow Treasury to use “extraordinary measures” (moving money around) to pay bills after that, so it’s a hard ceiling.

And the House also wants to end the employer contribution to health care for members of Congress, their staffs, and White House officials.  They want to get Dems on record voting against it.

The House is going to vote by this evening.

The rest of the world thinks we’re nuts, and the rest of the world is right.