The House proposal would have funded the government through Jan. 15 and raised the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, both of which are not that different from what the top leaders in the Senate are considering. The House plan would also have delayed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's medical device tax for two years, tightened income verification for people who receive premium subsidies to buy insurance on the exchanges, and canceled the federal government's employer contribution to members of Congress and the president's cabinet for buying health coverage on the exchange, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
At deadline, a representative for the House Republican leadership had not responded to a request for information about the proposal.
“The President has said repeatedly that members of Congress don't get to demand ransom for fulfilling their basic responsibilities to pass a budget and pay the nation's bills. Unfortunately, the latest proposal from House Republicans does just that in a partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place,” Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have been working in a bipartisan, good-faith effort to end the manufactured crises that have already harmed American families and business owners. With only a couple days remaining until the United States exhausts its borrowing authority, it's time for the House to do the same.”
Reid backed up that statement when he said on the Senate floor that “the House legislation will not pass the Senate” and accused Boehner of trying to preserve his role at the expense of the country.
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama is pleased with the process he's seen in the Senate, where Carney said both Democrats and Republicans are engaging in the fiscal discussions in a bipartisan manner. “We certainly believe there is a potential there for a resolution” to the current crisis, Carney said.
Carney also reiterated the White House's position that it will not “pay a ransom” to House Republicans in order to reopen the government and ensure all of the country's bills are paid.
As before, demands from the House GOP center on making changes to the healthcare law. Senate leaders are also considering adjustments to the ACA, although they're more limited.
“Until we have a proposal that has emerged from these negotiations in the Senate,” Carney told reporters, “I'm not going to analyze it with you piece by piece.”
One issue that resurfaced during the White House briefing was the possibility of a two-year delay in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's medical device tax, which both chambers are at least considering. Carney said “the medical device tax has obviously been in the air for the last several weeks.”
He added that the White House has made it clear it would be willing to talk with lawmakers about that provision—and other possible changes to the healthcare law—in a broader context once the government is re-opened and the nation's borrowing authority is raised.
Separately, Carney played defense when he was asked about the president's confidence in HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, given the rocky rollout of open enrollment on the exchanges. This week, former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called the launch “embarrassing” and said he hoped some people in charge of making it work would be fired.
“The Secretary does have the full confidence of the president,” Carney said, adding that Sebelius is focused on making implementation of the Affordable Care Act work well. Regarding problems consumers have faced, Carney said “the president wants these matters addressed.”
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