The New House Plan

by Ramesh Ponnuru

. . . changes the Senate plan in several ways that are designed to make it more palatable to Republicans. The executive branch would not be able to shift funds to soften the blow of sequestration, as in the Senate bill; House appropriators want Congress to stay in charge of how the money gets spent. The delay in the reinsurance tax–which Senate Democrats put in their plan to appease unions–would be dropped. The medical device tax would be suspended for two years; that’s not in the Senate deal. The Vitter amendment would be applied to congressmen, the president, the vice president, and the Cabinet but not congressional staff. The Senate deal has nothing Vitterish in it. And the Treasury’s ability to take extraordinary measures to delay hitting the debt limit in the future would be restricted: It would become, as it once was, a firm deadline.

Opinions differ among House members on whether the Democrats would feel compelled to accept something like this. The Democrats would not be giving up much of substance, and the Republicans would not be scoring a huge win. But Democrats have gotten pretty invested in the idea that it’s wrong in principle, and dangerous, for Republicans to get anything at all in return for re-opening the government and raising the debt limit.