Square 1: House, Senate GOP Crash Against Unified Democrat Wall
Hours after President Obama rejected the latest spending offer from the House GOP on his weekly radio address, Senate Democrat leaders rejected a competing proposal offered by Senate Republicans. While Obama and the Democrats have remained united on a simple and clear position on the fiscal stand-off, House and Senate Republicans competed for pole-position to lead opposition negotiations. Democrats rejected each in turn.
The proposal from Senate Republicans, which was managed by Sen. Susan Collins, would have lifted the debt ceiling through January and ended the partial government shutdown, funding the government for six months. There were also some not-yet-finalized tweaks to ObamaCare, some of which Obama had said Friday he could accept. With preemptive rejection of the Senate GOP proposal, Senate Democrats are maintaining their hard-line position that only a long-term proposal lifting the debt ceiling and funding government, with no conditions or spending cuts, would be acceptable.
Obama and the Democrats have capitalized on growing acrimony between House and Senate Republicans. In offering their proposal on Friday, Senate Republicans took swipes at the House's management of the fiscal stalemate. On Saturday, House Republicans fired back.
“[Senate Republicans] are trying to jam us with the Senate and we are not going to roll over and take that,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said after the GOP caucus meeting.
“Clearly the president can't be trusted,” Rep. Aaron Schock said. “It is up to Senate Republicans to grow a backbone and stand with House Republicans like they said they were going to do.”
While the House and Senate GOP bickered, Obama and the Democrats remained united and rejected the competing GOP proposals. While House Republicans had quickly altered their initial proposal to meet Obama's demands, the President felt he was in a strong enough position to reject their latest proposal as well.
Saturday afternoon, on a party-line vote, the Senate rejected Reid's proposal for a 14-month "clean" debt limit increase. So, in a sense, the week ended where it began, except that the GOP has blinked and shown it is eager to cut any kind of deal to end the impasse.
Sens. Reid and McConnell are reportedly in talks now on a possible deal. The White House is not in active talks with anyone. No votes are scheduled in either chamber until Monday evening, just a few days before the Treasury Department says the nation will hit the debt ceiling.