With federal agencies set to close their doors in five days, House Republicans began exploring a potential detour on the path to a shutdown: shifting the fight over President Obama’s health-care law to a separate bill that would raise the nation's debt limit.
If it works, the strategy could clear the way for the House to approve a simple measure to keep the government open into the new fiscal year, which will begin Tuesday, without hotly contested provisions to defund the Affordable Care Act.
But it would set the stage for an even more nerve-racking deadline on Oct. 17, with conservatives using the threat of the nation’s first default on its debt to force the president to accept a one-year delay of the health-care law’s mandates, taxes and benefits.
According to Politico
, however, Boehner is still considering demanding Obamacare concessions in legislation to fund the government:
Privately, the speaker is trying to notch a couple of victories for his side on the stopgap spending measure before moving on to the debt ceiling fight. When Boehner sends the spending bill back to the Senate, potentially on the eve of the Oct. 1 deadline, he may target unpopular Obamacare provisions, including federal dollars to help pay for lawmakers’ and aides’ insurance coverage or a delay of the individual mandate for one year.
If strongarming those sorts of results from the continuing resolution is not possible—which it won't be—then Boehner is prepared to keep government open for a week, says Politico, at which point he would shift his focus to the debt limit.
Boehner’s strategy all along has been to place outsize importance on the debt ceiling fight. His reasoning is simple: He thinks Obama’s position — that he will not negotiate on lifting the borrowing limit — is impossible to maintain. So the speaker has compiled a debt hike bill with a bunch of goodies that they think House Republicans will vote for, and red state Senate Democrats won’t want to avoid.
That's true as far as the current round of fiscal battles is concerned—Boehner was saying the same thing
earlier this month. But it's pretty much the exact opposite of what Boehner was saying six months ago
, when he was trying to convince his caucus that the debt limit wasn't their "ultimate leverage"—the sequester was. Sure enough, during that fight Boehner caved
on the debt limit, getting absolutely nothing in return for raising it. Now we're seeing a different bluff—but in many ways, it's the same tune.