July 29, 2011
Debt Limit Negotiations Coming Down to the Wire
In political theatre the likes of which Washington has not seen for years, the House Republican leadership was forced to postpone a Thursday vote on Speaker of the House John Boehner’s plan to raise the debt limit because of a lack of Republican support. House Democrats united in opposition and Republicans needed all but 24 of their members to support the legislation for it to pass. More than 24 Republicans were going to vote “no,” so the vote was initially postponed to allow time for some old-fashioned Washington arm twisting. The Republican Leadership was not able Thursday night to convince enough members to switch votes from “no” to “yes,” so the vote was postponed until a later time. Republicans are working on amendments regarding a Balanced Budget Amendment to Speaker Boehner’s plan that will likely result in additional support from those Republicans that are currently against the plan. A vote on the amended plan could come as early as Friday, July 29. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the Speaker’s plan would not pass the Senate and President Obama has expressed opposition as well.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to use a procedural motion on his debt ceiling plan which would allow a vote on Tuesday morning, August 2. Majority Leader Reid reportedly is in negotiations with Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to make changes to the legislation that would garner Republican senators’ support.
Currently, neither of the two pending proposals specifically address Medicare physician payments. However, changes to entitlement programs such as Medicare remain a significant part of debt limit discussions. Capping or otherwise limiting Medicare spending for future years could impact payments to health care providers including anesthesiologists.
It is becoming increasingly evident any debt limit increase will occur at the eleventh hour. Both the House and the Senate are remaining in session over the weekend with the goal of hammering out a deal on the debt limit.
To read more information on all of the plans that have been presented,