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October 15, 2013 10:49 AM House Wants More Obamacare Concessions

By Ed Kilgore

Early reports on what House Republicans might offer as a “new volley” of demands as the debt limit breach approaches centered on a reiteration of the very short-term debt limit and appropriations extensions that were sent to the White House over the weekend only to be rejected. But now it seems clear that a determination to obtain more Obamacare concessions is the main difference between House and Senate GOP conferences, according to WaPo’s Montgomery and Helderman:

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif,) said the new House plan was designed to be attractive to Democrats, because it would follow key timelines that have been established in the Senate negotiations — funding government agencies until Jan. 15, for example, and raising the debt ceiling until Feb. 7.
But the plan would also include a two-year repeal of the medical device tax, and a provision eliminating the employer health-care contribution for members of Congress and White House officials, provisions that are likely to generate strenuous opposition. The House bill would also require income verification for individuals and families receiving subsidies for health insurance….
A battle also was raging over a GOP demand to deny Treasury Secretary Jack Lew the use of special measures to extend his borrowing power past Feb. 7. Republicans want to ensure a firm deadline for the next debt-limit increase, with no wiggle room for Treasury Department accountants. But Democratic lawmakers and the White House were flatly refusing to give up that flexibility to manage the nation’s finances, aides said.

Unless this House big is designed to provide cover for conservatives before the chamber as a whole (either through Republican votes or a bipartisan coalition) caves to the Senate, this “volley” shows the desire of conservatives for Obamacare flesh is the big sticking point, and it’s not at all clear how many right-wing votes the Vitter Amendment and a medical device tax repeal will attract. I don’t know what to make of this detail from the WaPo account of the House GOP meeting on the counter-proposal:

GOP lawmakers were briefed on the House proposal behind closed doors on Tuesday morning in a session that grew emotional at times, with Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) — a junior member of leadership who is popular among cast-iron conservatives — leading the singing of “Amazing Grace.”

Southerland’s from the funeral industry, so it’s possible he was signaling the demise of the new plan, or is just used to launching into song in overheated rooms.

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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