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Agreement on new deal stalled, won’t meet optimistic predictions

By DOUG THOMPSON
October 15, 2013

A bleak day at a bleak capitol (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)

Dawn of a day of hope at the Capitol? (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)

Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell predictions that they could reach agreement Tuesday on a deal to reopen the government and avoid a debt-increase stalemate that could result in a first-ever default on debt and obligations proved too optimistic.

The pact, if approved by both the House and Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, will reopen the government through Jan. 15 of next year and allow the U.S. Treasury to borrow money through February.

Senatorial aides say details of the deal are almost complete and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) predicts everything could be in place as early as midday Tuesday.

“The general framework is there,” Corker said last Monday.

While passage of the deal seems all but assured in the Senate, it’s fate is still unknown in the House, where conservatives have already voiced misgivings about the deal because it lacks either the budget cuts they want and leaves Obamacare pretty much alone.

Missing are GOP right-wing demands like a one-year delay in the healthcare law’s “mandate” that requires individuals to buy insurance.  In its place, the deal is expected to tighten income verification requirements for subsidies and may also repeal a $63 per-person fee for companies that provide health care to employees.

With backing from both Reid and McConnell, the agreement is expected to sail through the Senate.  Proponents hope House Republicans, faced with the political realities of sharply dropping public approval of their actions and increasing voter anger over any further delays, will put aside their differences and approve the plan.

Even without the support of the House’s tea-party backed Republicans, the bill could pass with a coalition of votes from Democrats and GOP moderates if Speaker John Boehner decided to bring the bill forward for a vote.

McConnell briefed Boehner Monday and GOP members in both the House and Senate are set for closed-door meetings on Tuesday.

Still, some Republicans remain unconvinced.  When asked if the proposed deal has any “victories” for Republicans, GOP Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma shook his head and said “not that I’ve seen so far.”

Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, a hard-core conservative, isn’t happy either.

“No deal is better than a bad deal,” he said.

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