Klobuchar: Senate close to debt limit deal, waiting to see what House does

WASHINGTON — If Republicans in the House can’t reach an agreement to raise the debt limit and fund the government, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Tuesday the Senate is close to one of its own.

“I wouldn’t say it’s all in the House’s hands, but the Senate continues to be near an agreement or had the one in principle,” Klobuchar said after a Senate Democratic conference meeting. “The problem is that the House shocked everyone today by doing something irresponsible by coming out with a bunch of demands.”

The Senate plan — which isn’t formalized and hasn’t been written into legislative language yet — would re-open the government and fund it through Jan. 15; raise the debt limit and allow the government to borrow through Feb. 7; and call for long-term debt and deficit talks over the winter.

House GOP members took the plan Tuesday morning and are considering adding a handful of new provisions opposed by Democrats , such as a rule eliminating health care subsidies for elected officials. Their plan — which is evolving and not yet scheduled for a vote — could also limit the so-called “extraordinary” accounting measures the Treasury undertakes to delay a potential debt default.

Leaders could bring the plan up for a vote Tuesday tonight, but there is reportedly some question of whether Republicans can find the votes necessary to pass it (Democrats, from the White House to the Senate and House, strongly oppose the measure).

Klobuchar has been part of a bipartisan group of senators looking to forge a budget deal, but she said the group’s conversations focused on things with broad support, such as the dates included in the Senate plan. Senate Democratic and Republican leadership have been meeting privately to fill in the rest, though those talks are on hold while the House scrambles to finish their work.

House Republicans had, at one point, considered including in their budget plan a two-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical device manufacturers. But the National Review reported Tuesday afternoon that the plan’s likely off the table for the now.

Even still, Klobuchar made it sound like the tax’s days are numbered — if it’s not included in a budget bill this week, she said it’s likely to come up later on.

“I would love to see it in this deal, but the point is, we’ve gained so much momentum to either have it now or have it in the larger budget discussions, which we want to have at the end of the year or in January,” she said. “I think there is a lot of positive development on that front, no matter what bill it’s on.”

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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