As the government shutdown enters its second week, House Republicans are pushing for another “supercommittee” to negotiate a deal to restore government funding and raise the debt ceiling. The House is set to vote on the proposal Tuesday and send it to the Senate, after attaching language to pay government workers still on the job.
Given Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s continued refusal to negotiate, the Senate is unlikely to approve the “supercommittee” proposal from the House.
If this idea sounds familiar, it is because the parties agreed to roughly the same idea during the last fight over the debt ceiling in 2011. That deal called for across-the-board spending cuts, i.e. sequestration, but also formed a “supercommittee” to negotiate alternative spending cuts. That “supercommittee” obviously failed.
The most charitable explanation for the GOP’s latest move is to further highlight Sen. Reid’s refusal to negotiate an end to the standoff. Reid insists the GOP agree to a “clean” increase in the debt ceiling, without spending cuts or other reforms. This position, and the refusal to negotiate, could weaken the Senate Democrat’s political hand. A recent poll found that 61% of Americans think spending cuts should be part of any increase in the debt ceiling.
The “supercommittee” idea is untenable. Sen. Reid’s refusal to negotiate, however, is even more untenable. As we near the deadline on the debt ceiling, the public is likely to see this as Reid’s crisis.