House postpones vote on bill to reopen govt. and avoid default

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Even something of an appeal for heavenly aid was thrown in, as Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida led House Republicans in a rendition of “Amazing Grace” at the beginning of a rank-and-file meeting called to discuss a way out of the impasse.

Speaking with reporters, Boehner said, “I have made clear for months and months that the idea of default is wrong and we shouldn’t get anywhere close to it.”

But the first measure the leadership produced evidently came up short on votes, and the White House trashed it as an attempt to “appease a small group of tea party Republicans who forced the government shutdown in the first place. “

Democrats jumped on Boehner and the plan he produced.

In unusually personal remarks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Ohio Republican had “once again tried to preserve his role at the expense of the country.”

That was a reference to a rebellious rank and file in the House, who routinely seek to push Boehner and the rest of the leadership to the right. A group met Monday night with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who last summer played a public role in a campaign to demand defunding of Obamacare as the price for preventing a partial government shutdown.

The Democratic attacks were too much for some Republicans who have been among those most vocal in calling for a bipartisan solution to the impasse.

“It’s piling on and it’s not right,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said of the response from the Democrats. “To categorically reject what the House and the speaker are doing — and I think he’s pretty courageous in what he’s doing — in my view is not serving the American people.”

The House had been effectively sidelined in recent days as Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell engaged in intense negotiations to reopen the government and raise the debt limit.

That changed emphatically when details began circulating of some of the elements of the terms under discussion.

In addition to ending the shutdown and raising the debt limit, the two Senate leaders were considering a plan to delay a $63-per-person fee that the health care overhaul would impose on anyone who receives health care coverage under an employer-provided plan.

Some Republicans balked, complaining that was a concession to labor unions who are among the Democrats’ most loyal political supporters.

Many unions have announced their opposition to the fee, but so, too, have businesses.

Reid and McConnell also have been discussing provisions to give federal agencies flexibility in adjusting to across-the-board spending cuts imposed under legislation that Obama signed in 2011.

Another element of their negotiations would call for House-Senate negotiations on a possible deficit reduction measure to take the place of the across-the-board cuts.

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