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October 14, 2013 3:23 PM 2 Keys To a Deal

By Ed Kilgore

So the word from Politico is that Senate and White House negotiators are again close to a debt limit/CR deal. The Collins proposal that had people all shook up on Friday has reportedly been revised to deal with Democratic objections to the long duration of a CR that would lock in a second round of sequestration (the new expiration date would be January 15, the day the second round is supposed to kick in) and to the short duration of the debate limit extension (which would now go to February 15). The fate of the Obamacare riders is less clear, though it seems the subsidy means-test verification demand is in and the medical device tax may be out.

But the second step to a deal, and the big complication, is what happens to it in the House. With the debt limit deadline so near, there’s not really much time for the kind of back-and-forth Kabuki John Boehner deployed immediately before and after the government shutdown. Democrats, of course (along with some Republicans) would prefer that Boehner put the deal immediately on the House floor for a vote that could pass with Democratic votes. Lindsey Graham earlier expressed the opinion that Senate Republicans couldn’t sign on to any deal that a majority of House GOPers wouldn’t support, on grounds that he couldn’t “compromise Speaker Boehner’s leadership.”

Well, I don’t get the impression House Republicans have quite rejoined the reality zone in what they are prepared to support; they’re still talking about passing the conditional-short-term-debt-limit bill Obama rejected on Friday. So in many respects we are back to where we were when Boehner was backing off a debt default threat last week. I suppose everyone could agree on a short-term extension of the debt limit and a short-term CR, but that would definitely eliminate any opportunity for Republicans to pocket substantive concessions, even of the symbolic type, making the “deal” nothing more than can-kicking at a time Democrats think they are winning the public opinion battle (a new WaPo/ABC poll this afternoon shows the overall gap in “disapproval ratings” over the fiscal fight between congressional Republicans and Obama has grown from 13% just before the government shutdown to 21% now, so GOPers are not gaining ground).

I’d say those numbers could soon intensify if it appears Republican divisions—within the House and between the House and Senate—are the main obstacle to a deal.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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