After getting some feedback from Capitol Hill sources on an earlier post about the upcoming continuing resolution fight, the House leadership plan for defusing both the upcoming debt limit fight, and the defund-Obamacare movement, are coming into focus.
While I still disagree, House leadership firmly believes that attaching anything “new” to a continuing resolution is politically untenable, while passing a higher debt limit, without attaching anything new, is also politically impossible. Hence the House leadership’s desire to fight Obamacare through the debt limit, but not the CR.
The plan is to pass a 60-day CR extension that keeps discretionary spending at the existing sequestration levels. Then House leadership wants to combine Democratic desires to roll-back sequestration with conservative desires to delay/defund Obamacare into the debt limit fight.
This does not mean that Republicans will cave on anything that Democrats may put forward in the CR. If Democrats look to raise discretionary spending above current sequestration levels, Republicans will fight. But as long as Democrats honor the spending levels in the 2011 Budget Control Act, House leadership will go along … for now. The key is making sure Republicans are not portrayed as the ones trying to change or renege on an established government funding deal.
Setting aside whether or not the debt limit is firmer ground to fight Obamacare than the CR is, enrollment in Obamacare exchanges is set to begin October 1. House leadership simply does not have 60 days to delay the Obamacare fight.
Yes, you could still delay Obamacare exchange subsidies until the legally required fraud and privacy protections are in place, but Americans will have been signing up for insurance thinking they will get subsidies for months before that happens. That will make it much harder to sell any delay.
Either way, House leadership does not have the rank and file on board with this plan. If Republicans want to accomplish anything on spending/Obamacare before the end of this year, they will all need to get on the same page, otherwise House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will be dictating terms to them.