House Republican leadership has hatched a new plan on Washington's fiscal impasse that it hopes will lure Democrats into a negotiation.
According to a House leadership aide, Republicans plan to consider two bills soon. The first would require paychecks for essential government employees to be paid on time. The next pay period for many of these employees comes between Friday and next Tuesday.
"This would alleviate stress," the House aide said.
The second step would be to pass a bill that would establish a "negotiating team" among House and Senate Republicans and Democrats on the upcoming need to raise the debt ceiling, as well as other fiscal issues.
This proposal has been described as the return of the "Supercommittee," the 2011 Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction that was established in the Budget Control Act. But unlike the Supercommittee, the "negotiating team" wouldn't have legal authority, the GOP aide said.
The two bills would then be merged and sent to the Senate.
Essentially, what House Republicans are trying to do is put Senate Democrats in a corner. If they don't budge, Republicans can accuse Democrats of withholding paychecks for essential employees that have been working throughout the eight-day shutdown — including the Capitol Police. If Democrats do blink, Republicans get the negotiations that they want — though it's still not clear what they will demand.
Up until now, Senate Democrats have resisted the House GOP's "piecemeal" approach to fund and reopen certain, popular parts of the government. In this proposal, Republicans think that keeping essential workers paid will force Democrats to the table. But Democrats have already resisted GOP-passed "rifle-shot" bills to reopen the National Institutes of Health and the Womens, Infants, and Children program, among others.
"One area where Democrats have been willing to work with Republicans to ease the pain of the shutdown to date is with government employees," another House GOP leadership aide said.
"With paychecks set to be delayed, there will be tremendous pressure to fix that. The only thing standing in the way is Democrats' willingness to negotiate with Republicans. In divided government, neither party can refuse to negotiate. Will Senator Reid really deny workers a paycheck in order to avoid sitting down at a table with Republicans and simply talking?
President Barack Obama called House Speaker John Boehner Tuesday morning and emphasized that Boehner should allow for a vote on the Senate-passed "clean" continuing resolution to end the government shutdown. He said that he wouldn't negotiate on fiscal issues with the threats of a shutdown and potential default hanging overhead.
"The President also repeated his willingness to negotiate on priorities that he has identified including policies that expand economic opportunity, support private sector job creation, enhance the competitiveness of American businesses, strengthen the Affordable Care Act and continue to reduce the nation’s deficit," the White House said.
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