TPM's Brian Beutler saw in Boehner's press conference Friday morning what is possibly a glimmer of Boehner's thinking here, a way to engage the Senate and bring at the very least the extension of tax cuts for the middle class—and possibly more—to the House floor. This is in response to a question about whether the House would take up the Senate bill for the extension.
“As you all know the Senate bill had a blue slip problem and it continues to sit in the United States Senate. So we don’t have the Senate bill,” Boehner said. Blue slipping is the procedure the House uses to shelve tax bills initiated by the Senate, which, according to the Constitution, can’t be the starting point for legislation that raises revenue.That's definitely a way forward. But anything that gets hashed out in the aftermath has to start from square one.
In practice, Boehner could work around the blue slip issue. But it’s what he said next that revealed where he wants things to go from here.
“We do have a House bill that sits in the Senate that extended tax rates for all Americans, and we’ve been waiting since August the first for the Senate to act,” Boehner said. “If the Senate wants to act on that bill, we’ll certainly take a look at it.”
Notice that he’s given up on the hopeless idea that the Senate would just pass that bill. His suggestion is that the Senate amend the bill with … something. That something could be a rewrite of the bill Harry Reid passed in July, setting the Bush tax cut extension threshold at $250,000. Or it could be a bigger deal hashed out by Obama and congressional leaders, including Boehner.
Last night was a reset of the negotiations. The fact that Boehner can only accomplish this with Democratic votes means that it has to be palatable to Democrats. So this has to restart at the very beginning with Obama's initial line in the sand of cuts for no one making more than $250,000, no debt ceiling negotiating, and no harmful cuts to anyone in the middle class. Everything he offered up in his last proposal has to be withdrawn now.