House Republican leaders met today at the Capitol, but they made little progress toward solving the fiscal crisis, or calming the GOP’s growing tensions. They remain undecided on the contours of a potential deal, and on how to sell one, especially to the conference’s bloc of skeptical conservatives. “It’s the House of indecision,” says a weary Republican aide familiar with the talks. “We don’t have the votes for a big deal, small deal, or short-term deal.”
Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the Rules Committee, tells us Speaker John Boehner doesn’t yet have his debt-ceiling proposal finalized. For now, no legislation is headed toward his committee, and it’s all about messaging. “Negatory,” he replies, when asked whether the GOP’s next move has been set. “We’re going to keep with our great, positive attitude and tell the president, ‘you’ve got to sit down and negotiate.’”
“I’d say if you ran the clock on it, 48 hours,” Sessions adds, when asked how long it’ll take Boehner to unveil the leadership’s plan.
Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, the House GOP’s campaign chief, says whatever the leadership ultimately decides, it won’t be a clean CR or a clean extension of the debt limit. “I don’t think you could pass a clean CR or a clean debt ceiling,” he says. “But we need to sit down and talk with the Senate and the president and work through all of these issues.”
Sources close to Boehner echo Walden. In private, Boehner has told his allies that he won’t bring up a clean CR, and he’s hopeful that as the deadline nears, President Obama will deal. “There’s no way the president holds firm,” a House GOP insider predicts. “Once that crack opens, I don’t know how the debt limit will be addressed, but it won’t be by Republican capitulation.”
“Pretty much the same story,” cracks Representative Peter King of New York, when asked for an update. “Everything’s the same story.”