House Republican leaders are preparing legislation that would fund the government until Dec. 15, extend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7 and eliminate insurance subsidies that Congress, its staff and some Executive Branch employees get, a GOP lawmaker said.
Under the new House GOP proposal — the second one offered Tuesday — union workers would also remain subject to a $63 health insurance tax from which they had sought an exemption.
The proposal also would give the House and Senate until mid-December negotiate a new, long-term budget. That provision was missing from the House proposal released earlier Tuesday.
"The goal here for all Republicans is we want to get to this budget committee," Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told reporters as he left a GOP leadership meeting. "We'd like to give the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committee the chance to get some big, broad based agreements for entitlement reform and tax reform."
The House bill is a variation of the first proposal GOP leaders pitched to their rank and file earlier Tuesday, though it's been modified to meet the objections of other Republicans.
The new Republican proposal would fund the government at the $986 billion set by sequestration budget cuts, as would most other proposals advanced over the past few weeks.
The GOP earlier Tuesday wanted to severely restrict the administration's authority to shift funding between departments as a way of extending the next debt ceiling deadline beyond Feb. 7. Democrats objected, saying the administration needs the flexibility to prevent any future crises.
The second GOP proposal put out Tuesday afternoon still contains such restrictions, but would only temporarily limit the administration's flexibility, Nunes said.
A special House committee that would set the rules for a floor debate on the House bill is expected to meet Tuesday afternoon. It will decide what amendments, if any, could be added to the proposal.
House GOP leaders have been huddled for hours in the offices of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, trying to hash out a plan could win the 218 Republican votes it needs to pass.
The leadership already rejected a proposal from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, that would have extended the debt ceiling only to Jan. 7. Jordan left the meeting declining comment.
The Senate, meanwhile, halted talks on their own debt ceiling and government funding proposal. A House-passed bill, under parliamentary rules, would allow the Senate to act faster and perhaps beat the Thursday deadline set by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to raise the borrowing limit.
Republicans said progress was made on a bipartisan Senate plan, but negotiations stalled Monday night after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., began asking Republicans for additional concessions, though no lawmaker would provide specifics.
The House proposal strips many of the provisions conservatives sought to limit the new health care law. A provision requiring income verification for those seeking government insurance subsidies was also removed, Nunes said.
Instead, Nunes said, the language crafted by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., that would equalize the health care law for congressional and White House employees was added. The Vitter Amendment, as it is known, strips out the 72-percent government subsidy that pays for White House and Congressional employee health insurance policies.