Lots of Congressional Ideas

No one was surprised that the President and House GOP leaders were not able to solve the debt ceiling and government shutdown during a 90 minute meeting on Thursday.  Apparently, however, the meeting may have served as a first step toward finding a mutually acceptable path forward and seems to have sparked some new ideas.

In the Senate, Susan Collins (R-ME) has advanced a proposal that would reopen the government, modestly increase the debt ceiling, delay the health care medical device tax, and offer flexibility to Federal agencies to manage how they would apply sequestration cuts over the next two years.  The proposal seems to extend a “win” to both sides of the political aisle.

Meanwhile, in the House, a new six week debt limit extension designed to allow time for more significant negotiations appears to be gaining some support.  Authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the deal would also call for dollar-for-dollar budget cuts and an overhaul of both the tax code and entitlement programs – all to be negotiated during the extension period.  While the proposal does not speak to reopening the government, there is a possibility that such language could be added.

These actions appear to be the first bright spot in the otherwise dreary polarization of the two chambers’ positions.  The tipping point falls between the President’s statement that he would sign a debt limit extension if there were no partisan strings attached and the House’s determination to have discussions on negotiating a solution to the burgeoning debt levels and what both of those statements mean in reality.