Susan Davis and Gregory Korte, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON -A House Republican effort to advance a plan to reopen government and avert an impending default collapsed late Tuesday when it became apparent that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, did not have the votes to pass it.
The lack of any concrete plan in either chamber, divisions within the GOP, and the complexity of Senate rules pose many complications towards finding a budget compromise that can pass by Oct. 17, the deadline by which the Treasury has said it will no longer be able to meet all of its financial obligations on time.
Fitch Ratings announced Tuesday that it has put the U.S. Treasury bonds on watch for a potential downgrade if the nation's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling is not raised.
The decision to pull the proposal ended a furious day of negotiations among House Republicans eager to find an alternative to a competing proposal being crafted by the top party leaders in the Senate because it did not far enough to rein in President Obama's health care law.
The House effort, first announced Tuesday morning, put the brakes on the bipartisan Senate talks sparking a quick and angry response from Senate Democrats and the White House. By Tuesday evening, however, House GOP leaders said they would not vote on the bill as scheduled.
Heritage Action, an outside conservative activist group, announced opposition to the House proposal because it "will do nothing to stop Obamacare's massive new entitlements from taking root."
Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said the vote had been cancelled following a leadership meeting in Boehner's office. "We are going to be prepared (Wednesday) to make some decisions," he said.
The House was aiming for a package that included a short-term stopgap funding bill through Dec. 15, a suspension of the debt limit until Feb. 7, and the elimination of a subsidy that helps members of Congress, their staffs, and White House employees from buying insurance in the new healthcare system.
"We are very cognizant of the calendar," said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. "We want to find a solution that gets us moving forward and America back working again."
Many House Republicans were dissatisfied with the contours of the emerging Senate plan because it did not go far enough to rein in President Obama's health care law. The government shutdown, in its 15th day, began when House Republicans refused to advance a stopgap funding bill unless it included provisions to delay or defund the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
The Senate proposal that was under consideration would fund government through Jan. 15, suspend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7 and create the framework for formal budget negotiations to conclude by Dec. 15 with long-term recommendations for funding levels and deficit reduction. The Senate plan did not include any significant changes to the Obama health care law.
President Obama told WABC-TV of New York that "the House Republicans still believe that they can get concessions for doing their job ... we'll see how that plays itself out." Citing the Senate efforts, Obama said that "my expectation is it does get solved - but we don't have a lot of time."
House Republicans initially included on Tuesday a provision for a two-year delay of a 2.3% medical device tax, but removed it. They also initially only eliminated the federal subsidy for members of Congress, the president, vice president and Cabinet officials, but expanded it to include staff. But the tea party-inspired wing of the GOP complained the bill still did not go far enough to roll back the haelth care law, and the outside group[ Heritage Action urged members to vote against the bill.
House Democrats oppose it. "The bill that they are talking about is a bill to default," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., following a White House meeting Tuesday.