By Jake Sherman
It’s almost time to reach for the kitchen sink.
All week, House Republican leaders have been stymied in crafting a debt-limit package that could pass with only Republican support.
Now, Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and other top Republicans are considering attaching a whole laundry list of provisions to the debt ceiling that do precious little to decrease the deficit but would instead serve only to attract enough Democratic support to move the legislation on to the Senate.
By Jake Sherman
The Obama administration wants Congress to raise the debt limit in the next 16 days.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday, saying the “best course of action would be for Congress to “raise the nation’s debt limit “before February 7 to ensure orderly financing of the government.” At the latest, Lew writes, Congress must lift the cap by the end of February.
“When I previously wrote to you in December, I estimated that Treasury would exhaust extraordinary measures in late February or early March,” Lew wrote to Boehner. “Based on our best and most recent information, we believe that Treasury is more likely to exhaust those measures in late February. While this forecast is subject to inherent variability, we do not foresee any reasonable scenario in which the extraordinary measures would last for an extended period of time.”
There’s not a ton of time. The House is out of session this week and in session for only two-and-a-half days next week. As of right now, there doesn’t appear to be a plan to lift the debt limit. Asked last week whether Congress would have to deal with the debt limit by late February, Boehner demurred.
News from The Hill:
Senate approves $1.1T omnibus
By Pete Kasperowicz
The Senate approved the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill Thursday, sending it to the White House for President Obama’s signature and sparing the government from another government shutdown. Senators voted 72-26 in favor of the bill, and all no votes came from Senate Republicans, including GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn (Texas). That followed a 72-26 vote to end debate, which needed 60 votes.
By the time they leave town Friday for a one-week work period in their home states, senators are expected to pass a $1.1 trillion, 1,582 page spending bill that will avert the threat of a government shutdown for the next several months and help Congress get back to the normal process of budget and spending money that preceded the gridlock of recent years.
The House passed the so-called “omnibus” spending bill Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 357 to 64, despite objections from some outside conservative groups that the bill undid some of the mandatory spending cuts in the sequester.
THE HUFFINGTON POST
Author of ‘Obama’s America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity’
WHY WE PROPOSE TO DO THIS:
This bold plan will restore equality of opportunity in our country. It enshrines the central value of the American Dream, that every American child should have an equal chance at achieving the good life: a job that allows him or her to support a family, and eventually enjoy a safe, secure retirement.
Our plan is fiscally responsible. First of all, increasing the minimum wage will directly save our government money by leaving fewer working people in need of government support. Today, millions of people who work full-time still need Medicaid, food stamps, and other aid because the minimum wage is too low to bring them out of poverty. McDonald’s is even telling its employees to seek out government assistance.
American Legislative Exchange Council
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a 501(c)(3) American organization, composed of politically conservative state legislators. According to its website, ALEC “works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.”
ALEC provides a forum for state legislators and private sector members to collaborate on model bills—draft legislation that members can customize for communities and introduce for debate in their own state legislatures. Approximately 200 such bills become law each year. ALEC has produced model bills on issues such as reducing corporate regulation and taxation, tightening voter identification rules, and promoting gun rights. ALEC also serves as a networking tool among state legislators, allowing them to research conservative policies implemented in other states.
Since 2011, ALEC’s political activities has received considerable scrutiny by both the media and liberal groups. The New York Times reported that special interests have “effectively turn[ed] ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes.” Bloomberg Businessweek stated, “Part of ALEC’s mission is to present industry-backed legislation as grass-roots work.” The Guardian described ALEC as “a dating agency for Republican state legislators and big corporations, bringing them together to frame rightwing legislative agendas in the form of ‘model bills’.” Several liberal groups, including Common Cause, have challenged its tax-exempt status.