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From Health Law Daily, October 9, 2013

House Approves Supercommittee to Negotiate Government Shutdown, Debt-Ceiling Hike

By Jeff Carlson and Stephen K. Cooper

With the government shutdown in its second week and the nation just days away from defaulting on its fiscal obligations, House GOP lawmakers passed a measure calling for the creation of a bicameral supercommittee to negotiate a path forward. Lawmakers approved the Deficit Reduction and Economic Growth Working Group Bill of 2013 (HR 3273) on October 8, but the Obama Administration had already threatened to veto the measure even before lawmakers had a chance to vote on it. HR 3273 would appoint a bipartisan panel of 10 House members and 10 Senate members to work on fiscal issues, similar to the panel created in 2011 that failed to reach an agreement and resulted in the current budget sequestration.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) derided the idea of the panel, noting that GOP lawmakers should, instead, hold a vote on the Senate-passed stop-gap funding bill that does not require a politically sensitive delay of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148). During House floor debate, Pelosi produced a letter of support for the Senate measure that was signed by 200 House Democrats.

President Obama on October 8 telephoned House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and told him that he is willing to negotiate with Republicans after the threat of government shutdown and default have been removed, over policies that Republicans think would strengthen the country. Obama also held a hastily called press conference to reiterate his call to Republican leaders to both fund and re-open the government.

The president urged Boehner to hold a vote in the House on the Senate-passed measure that would re-open the federal government immediately. Citing the Senate’s intention to pass a clean, year-long extension of the debt limit this week, Obama also pressed Boehner to allow a timely up-or-down vote in the House to raise the debt limit with no ideological strings attached.

"I am happy to talk with him [Boehner] and other Republicans about anything, not just issues I think are important but also issues that they think are important," said Obama. "But I also told him that having such a conversation, talks, negotiations shouldn’t require hanging the threats of a government shutdown or economic chaos over the heads of the American people."

A meeting with Boehner and his caucus produced no breakthrough to end the shutdown "Refusing to negotiate is an untenable position," Boehner told reporters. "And, frankly, by refusing to negotiate, Harry Reid and the president our putting our country on a pretty dangerous path." Boehner said the way to resolve the impasse is "to sit down and have a conversation to resolve our differences."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., took to the Senate floor to plead with Republicans to re-open the government after which Democrats will agree to conference with Republicans on any issue. "We will go to conference on anything, but please let America pay its bills. This is unfair," said Reid.

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