Day 14: Reid Makes Bid to End Shutdown
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a new offer to GOP Leader Mitch McConnell to end the partial government shutdown. The proposal would extend government funding through mid-December at current levels and lift the debt ceiling until the middle of 2014. The country is expected to hit its debt ceiling later this week, narrowing drastically the window for a deal to be reached.
As the partial government shutdown enters its 14th day, lawmakers are trying to revive talks that fell apart over the weekend. House Republicans had altered their original proposal to meet demands from the White House, yet President Obama still summarily rejected the plan. Later on Saturday, Senate Democrat Leaders shot down a bi-partisan plan to reopen the government authored by GOP Sen. Susan Collins. According to news reports, Reid and McConnell are now heading talks to end the stand-off.
Reid's proposal would reopen government through the middle of December. The proposal would continue existing funding levels mandated by the sequester, i.e. Budget Control Act. Next year, the sequester requires another $20 billion in cuts to discretionary spending. Reid's proposal will set up another debate on funding levels just before the holidays. Some Senate Democrats had proposed scrapping the sequester cuts altogether.
A senior GOP Senate aide told Breitbart News that the Democrats were attempting to "ransom" the debt ceiling and shutdown to win more spending in the budget. "They're going too far and it's starting to stick to them," the aide said. "They will eventually have to back off."
Congressional leaders are scheduled to meet at the White House Monday afternoon, although the meeting isn't related to the Reid proposal, according to sources on the Hill. "The White House just wants to look engaged," a source told Breitbart News.
Reid's proposal to McConnell would also lift the debt ceiling until the middle of 2014. This would set up a major debate on the federal debt just ahead of the mid-term elections. Reid is clearly calculating that a fight over the debt ceiling would help his members seeking reelection. It is a decision he may come to regret.