The U.S. House of Representatives will not vote Tuesday evening after all on the bill prepared earlier in the day by Republican lawmakers to attempt to end the government shutdown, which has been going on since Oct. 1 due to the lack of a budget agreement, and avoid a default.
The chairman of the House Rules Committee, Pete Sessions (R-Texas), confirmed Tuesday evening that “there will be no vote” on the bill, despite the fact that earlier in the day the spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner had said that the matter would be brought to a vote before midnight.
It appears that the decision not to bring the bill to a vote reflects a lack of agreement within the Republican Party on the issue given that just minutes after the bill was presented to the House Rules Committee for review, the panel announced that it would postpone its hearing indefinitely, a move suggesting there are not enough votes to pass the measure.
Earlier on Tuesday, Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, had said in a statement that “The House will vote tonight to reopen the government and avoid default.”
The legislation, Steel said, would “end Obamacare subsidies for elected officials and staff in Washington, D.C., and pressure Senate Democrats to accept more sensible” time frames for reopening the government and authorizing the Treasury to borrow more money.
The Republican plan included temporary financing of the federal government up until Dec. 15 and it would have raised the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, 2014.
The text of the House bill eliminated the ability of the U.S. Treasury to use “extraordinary measures” to temporarily extend the debt limit.
The Senate, which in a bipartisan effort led the negotiations over the weekend, decided on Tuesday to suspend them with the aim of getting the GOP-controlled House, which precipitated the shutdown, to negotiate its own proposal.
Lawmakers were racing against the clock all day in the halls of Congress, talking with one another and seeking an accord, just two days before the current debt limit deadline, but it appeared Tuesday evening that those efforts had ultimately failed to bear fruit.
Meanwhile, the drama playing itself out over the U.S. fiscal position became more acute Tuesday afternoon when credit rating agency Fitch announced it has put U.S. Treasury bonds on watch for a potential downgrade if the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling is not raised.