Two Ways House Proposal Won’t Fly

As an update to my last post, here are two separate ways the House GOP proposal with its minimization of policy concessions could crash and burn: (1) Senate Democrats and the White House could reject it on grounds that any concessions accompanying a deal must be reciprocal lest they reward GOP hostage-taking, or (2) House conservatives could insist on adding concessions to shorten the distance they’ve retreated during this whole fiasco.

The first pitfall is very real; Greg Sargent reports House Democratic leadership spox Chris van Hollen as rejecting it out of hand as an effort to undermine the “bipartisan” Senate plan, which has yet to be finalized. On the other hand, if as some suggest the Senate deal will not ultimately include a repeal of the Obamacare reinsurance tax–being generally recorded as a concession to Democrats–then it’s hard call it “bipartisan” while the House proposal is “unilateral.”

A more deadly threat to a House-Senate convergence is probably the talk swirling around House GOP circles that conservatives will demand a revival of broad “conscience clause” exemptions for businesses from Obamacare’s contraception coverage mandate, which were in the very first House GOP proposal back before the government shutdown. That’s a big deal-breaker with Democrats in both chambers and in the White House. If conservatives get behind that demand, it’s another way of saying Boehner doesn’t have the votes for his proposal, and will have to rely on Democratic votes for passage. And if that’s the case, he might as well just go along with the Senate proposal, which would shorten the end-game by several crucial days.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.