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While some mainstream media outlets are reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has blinked in the budget debate, the supposed compromise could be nothing more than a tactic to get still more concessions from House Republicans.
Earlier Wednesday, Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren reported that Reid appeared to have blinked in the budget debate.
In an email sent to Fox News, Reid claimed that he would be willing to compromise with Republicans on their budget concerns if they would only pass a “clean” continuing resolution.
“Once [Republicans] reopen the government, Senate Democrats will gladly appoint conferees and work out our long-term budget priorities with the House of Representatives,” Reid said. “Once Republicans reopen the government, the next move is to go to conference, and set our minds on reaching a reasonable compromise. Right now, Republicans – led by John Boehner – are the only thing standing between Congress and that compromise.”
Last week Republicans listened to the voices of their constituents and passed a continuing resolution that would have funded every aspect of the federal government with no cuts to any program except Obamacare, the president’s signature health-care law that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the president’s “crown jewel.”
However, the president and Reid immediately rejected any attempt to slow down the implementation of Obamacare by members of Congress. Reid stripped the defunding amendment from the bill and sent it back to the House.
Since then, Republicans have passed multiple bills to fund the government. However, Obama and Reid have rejected every one of them, saying they will only accept a bill that meets all of their demands. Democrats even rejected a funding resolution that provided funding for Obamacare but required the president and members of his staff to live under the law’s provisions.
Democrats dismissed a last-minute effort to avert a shutdown by refusing to appoint a conference committee to work out differences, despite such a process being used multiple times in previous years.
The mainstream media have consistently portrayed the shutdown as solely the fault of Republicans. Media Research Center, a media watchdog group, has noted that while CBS, ABC and NBC have blamed the shutdown on Republicans 21 times, they have blamed the Democrats zero times in 39 stories in the two weeks leading up to the shutdown.
Throughout the budget debate, Reid and Obama have taken identical positions on both the continuing resolution and the upcoming debt-limit debate by insisting Republicans agree to both without any conditions. In fact, this position remained unchanged despite the president calling for a meeting with members of Congress.
The meeting, which lasted an hour, was billed as a discussion of ways to reopen the government. However, afterward it was revealed that Obama had not changed his position of no compromise.
“They will not negotiate,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, lamented. “We had a nice conversation, a polite conversation, but at some point we’ve got to allow the process that our founders gave us to work out.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed similar sentiments, saying the meeting was “cordial but unproductive.”
“While I appreciated the opportunity to speak directly with the president about this pressing issue, I was disappointed that he had little interest in negotiating a solution or in encouraging Senate Democrats to agree to the House request for a conference,” he said.
Obama’s unyielding position, combined with the mainstream media onslaught blaming the Republicans, has caused some members of the GOP to look for a way to capitulate and give the president what he wants to get the government back open.
The Washington Post has reported that there are at least 12 Republicans who are willing to vote for Reid’s “clean” continuing resolution if it were to come to the floor for a vote. The Republican members of Congress are:
Scott Rigell, R-Va.
Pat Meehan, R-Pa.
Charlie Dent, R-Pa.
Peter King, R-N.Y.
Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
Jon Runyan, R-N.J.
Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.
Frank Wolf, R-Va.
Michael Grimm, R-N.Y.
Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va.
Erik Paulsen, R-Minn.
Lou Barletta, R-Pa.
Additionally, four other Republicans, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Steve Womack, R-Ark., Dennis Ross, R-Fla., and Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., are reportedly warming to the idea but have not yet committed to relenting.
Reid’s claim that he was willing to hammer out their differences with Republicans could put pressure on House Speaker John Boehner to allow a vote on the clean continuing resolution and provide an incentive for wavering Republicans to vote for it.
However, despite Reid’s statement that he would be willing to talk once the clean continuing resolution has passed, there’s a possibility his offer could be a ploy to force Republicans into another corner over the debt limit.
Politico is reporting that Democrat sources are telling them if House Republicans don’t cave to in to Democrats’ demands in the next few days, Reid might up the ante by insisting that the continuing resolution must now contain an increase in the debt ceiling.
“If the House GOP won’t back the Senate’s stopgap plan by later this week, Democrats are prepared to argue that it makes little sense to agree to a short-term spending bill if Congress is forced to resolve another fiscal crisis in just a matter of days,” Politico reported.
The reasoning behind the new move is that as the deadline for the Oct. 17 deadline moves closer, the two separate issues are quickly becoming intertwined.
“This is now all together,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill. said.
Republican members of Congress have criticized tea-party members for using the continuing resolution to fight over funding for Obamacare, arguing that the debt-ceiling debate is the place for pressing for spending cuts and obtaining concessions.
However, if Republicans were to cave on the continuing resolution this close to the Oct. 17 deadline for the debt limit vote, they risk appearing to have little leverage against Obama, who has attempted to link the issues together.