Still unclear whether House or Senate will vote first; prospects for passage in House not assuredAlaska –
With hours left for Congress to finalize and pass legislation before the United States’ borrowing authority expires, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., formally unveiled a plan Wednesday that will fund the government through Jan. 15 and lift the debt limit through Feb. 7.
The pair started negotiating earlier this week after attempted talks between President Obama and House Republicans failed to come together. After coming close to a deal on Monday evening, they stepped aside Tuesday to allow the House to attempt to negotiate a solution. When the GOP leadership failed to craft a plan that could win sufficient Republican support, Reid and McConnell were back in the spotlight.
Senate Republicans met at 11 a.m. to discuss the deal.
It is still unclear which chamber of Congress will vote first on a deal. If the House votes first, it will allow the Senate to avoid procedural hurdles that could force them to spend extra hours waiting to pass the bill.
“No decision made, just waiting on the Senate,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Wednesday morning.
But passage is still not a sure thing. For one, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will need to round up enough Republican votes to join Democrats in voting for the Senate plan. It’s expected that most, if not all, of the 200 House Democrats will vote for the plan; 217 votes are needed for passage. Although Boehner has tried to stick to the so-called “Hastert Rule” by not putting a bill on the floor of the House that doesn’t have majority support within his own party, he has already had to do so several times this year and will likely have to do so again Wednesday.
The deal passed in January to avoid the fiscal cliff passed with 85 Republicans, A bill not long after that to provide billions in relief to the victims of Hurricane Sandy passed with just 49 Republicans. And a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act had just 87 GOP votes.
Additionally, it is uncertain whether Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, or Mike Lee, R-Utah, will try to block the deal in the Senate. Cruz kicked off the battle that led to the shutdown last month when he gave a 21-hour speech on the Senate floor railing against Obamacare.
If the this latest deal somehow fails to clear either the House or Senate, and the debt limit isn’t raised by Thursday, the Treasury will have exhausted its borrowing authority and will be relying on limited cash reserves to pay off the nation’s debt. It won’t necessarily happen at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, and it may take a few days or even weeks for the world to feel the full impact of such an unprecedented state of economic uncertainty.