WASHINGTON -- House Republicans intend to pass their own plan to reopen government and avert an impending Thursday default deadline instead of waiting for Senate leaders who are nearing agreement on a competing budget offer.
"I have made clear for month and months that the idea of default is wrong and we shouldn't get anywhere near close to it," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday morning. Boehner said the House is trying to vote as early as today on their new proposal.
"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."
House Republicans are dissatisfied with the contours of the Senate plan because it does not go far enough to rein in President Obama's health care law. The government shutdown, now in its 15th day, began when House Republicans refused to advance a stopgap funding bill unless it included provisions to delay or defund the Affordable Care Act.
The decision may complicate the effort to avoid an unprecedented default. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said the U.S. will stop being able to meet all of its financial obligations on time by Oct. 17.
House Democrats are likely to oppose the plan, putting pressure on House GOP leaders to rely solely on their own members to pass it. "GOP's latest plan is designed to torpedo the bipartisan (Senate) solution," tweeted Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, "Plan is not only reckless, it's tantamount to default."
The White House criticized the plan. "The president has said repeatedly that Members of Congress don't get to demand ransom for fulfilling their basic responsibilities to pass a budget and pay the nation's bills," said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage, "Unfortunately, the latest proposal from House Republicans does just that in a partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place."
Obama will meet Tuesday afternoon with House Democratic leaders.
House GOP aides not authorized to speak about the new House plan until it is released publicly, said it mirrors the Senate plan to extend federal spending through January and raise the debt ceiling through February.
However, the House plan removes the Treasury secretary's ability to use "extraordinary measures" to extend the debt ceiling deadline, restricting the executive branch's flexibility to shift money around to pay bills.
The House plan also includes a two-year delay of a 2.3% medical device tax and eliminates a federal subsidy for members of Congress, the president, vice president and cabinet officials to buy health insurance under the new system.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the House will vote today on the proposal. Issa said the plan was "very similar" to the Senate proposal still under discussion. "But remember. The Senate doesn't have a bill. So being similar to a possible bill with another possible bill isn't saying anything."
House Republicans sang "Amazing Grace," led by Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., at the closed door meeting this morning, Issa said.
Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., a centrist who has been vocal about the need to reopen government, said he would support the House plan. "It moves the ball forward," he said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday that he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., continue separate deliberations on a Senate plan.
The competing proposal 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 does not include any significant reforms to Obamacare.
Senate Democrats and Republicans will be updated on the status of negotiations at their weekly Tuesday private lunches.
"I'm confident we'll be able to reach a comprehensive agreement this week in time to avert a catastrophic default on the nation's bills," Reid said.