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Who can the White House negotiate with?
December 22, 2012 8:57 PM   Subscribe

Is there a procedural way that a deal on the fiscal cliff can be made that doesn't rely on negotiating with the Speaker of the House and the Speaker then delivering the votes to support the deal?
posted by rdr to Law & Government (4 answers total)
 
Well, in terms of the tax and spending changes that will take place automatically (one aspect of the so-called cliff), the Speaker isn't strictly speaking required, but the House is. So there could certainly be a group of folks that negotiates for the Republicans other than Boehner. It is typically difficult for anyone to form such a group other than the leadership, but there is nothing to prevent it. A more typical path would be for the Senate to pass some kind of deal and the House to pass their own proposal and then they would meet in the middle during the reconciliation process, which would give everyone some cover.

The other aspect of the fiscal cliff (the debt ceiling) might be raised without the House -- there have been a number of arguments advanced that the Constitution makes the debt ceiling illegal and that the Executive could either ignore it or bypass in a number of creative ways. Therefore, it is at least possible that the debt ceiling aspect of the cliff could be lifted without a deal with the Speaker. It is far from clear that anyone would be willing to take an option to challenge the debt ceiling without legislation to support them.
posted by Lame_username at 5:11 AM on December 23, 2012


Don't forget that there are lots of people in Washington who want to go over the fiscal cliff. A lot of what's happening is posturing. Everyone agrees we need more revenues -- at least until and unless there's some sea change in what Medicare will cost. Lots of Democrats like the defense cuts and the sharp increases in taxes on investment income and inheritances, and want none of the entitlement cuts that a deal would entail. Lots of Republicans think the Bush tax cuts and Bush/Obama unemployment extension amd Food Stamp expansion were a disaster in the way they transformed tens of millions of people from yoeman taxpayers into government dependents.
posted by MattD at 6:43 AM on December 23, 2012


Well, in terms of the tax and spending changes that will take place automatically (one aspect of the so-called cliff), the Speaker isn't strictly speaking required, but the House is. So there could certainly be a group of folks that negotiates for the Republicans other than Boehner. It is typically difficult for anyone to form such a group other than the leadership, but there is nothing to prevent it. A more typical path would be for the Senate to pass some kind of deal and the House to pass their own proposal and then they would meet in the middle during the reconciliation process, which would give everyone some cover.

Doesn't Boehner control what comes to the floor? I think everything has to go through him at least to that extent.
posted by gerryblog at 7:39 AM on December 23, 2012


Negotiating through the speaker is a strategy, not a procedure. If I were president at this point, I would announce the following strategy instead: "I'm done negotiating with the Speaker because obviously he can't deliver his own party. I'm going to work with the Senate majority leader on a measure that can pass the Senate. Meanwhile the House minority leader and others will work to find enough intelligent Republicans in the House to secure passage there, and then I'll sign it and we can move on to gun control, climate change and other issues the American people care about. We welcome any Republicans who want to join us in actually getting things done."

Yes, the Speaker controls what comes to the floor, and which committee considers legislation that is introduced. But the above strategy would back him into a corner rather than leaving him in the driver's seat. By refusing a vote he would put all of the responsibility for going over the cliff on the Repubs. Not being able to put any alternative through the House, he really would have no option but to permit a vote.
posted by beagle at 7:51 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


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