House Republicans will meet privately Thursday morning to plot paths forward on a looming government shutdown and legislation needed to raise the debt ceiling.
House GOP leaders met Wednesday evening to discuss their next steps on a stopgap budget bill that would temporarily fund the government and avert a shutdown. The Senate is rewriting the House bill to restore money for the implementation of Obamacare, and is expected to send it back to the House, possibly as late as Monday, the day before the shutdown would occur without funding.
Republican leaders will present to their rank and file on Thursday options they have in responding to the Senate's pending refusal to defund Obamacare. Republicans aren't ruling out attaching an Obamacare defunding provision onto another bill to keep the issue alive.
House Republicans also could drop their defunding plans and push instead to delay the implementation of Obamacare. If the GOP does that, they would still send a new government funding bill, one that incorporates GOP priorities, back to the Senate.
One possible GOP addition to the bill that's gaining currency would eliminate the employer health care contribution now given to members of Congress, their staff — all of whom must join the Obamacare exchanges in January — and to executive branch political appointees.
“I wouldn’t stow away your pingpong paddles,” Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., told reporters after the leadership meeting.
“If they send back something we don’t agree with, I assume we bounce something back,” said Republican Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford, of Oklahoma.
The Democratic Senate, in a vote expected in the next few days, is set to restore funding for the Affordable Care Act that Republicans sought to strip from the government spending bill.
House Republicans hope to unite behind legislation needed to raise the nation's $16 trillion debt ceiling by Oct. 17, though the Obama administration insists it will not negotiate the increase.
The GOP legislation is being designed to appeal to wary conservatives and force Senate Democrats and President Obama to the bargaining table and would include a one-year delay of Obamacare, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and other GOP priorities.
If Republicans decide to proceed with the leadership's proposal, a bill could be formally introduced soon after the caucus meeting adjourns.
“Our discussion with leadership and our members is, boy, wouldn’t it be great if we got some of these things?” House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said.