Democrats, GOP Strike Tentative Deal on Supplemental

Posted June 18, 2008 at 3:37pm

House Democratic and GOP leaders on Wednesday struck a bipartisan deal that creates a way forward on the war supplemental.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) met behind closed doors and emerged with a package that all parties at least tentatively agreed to, sources said.

The Rules Committee set an emergency meeting this afternoon to set a same-day rule for the supplemental. The move allows lawmakers to set a rule for the bill and bring it up on the floor on Thursday.

While details of the compromise are unclear, a GOP source said Boehner and Obey had been negotiating a package that could make “some concessions” on extended unemployment insurance, such as inserting a requirement that persons must have worked 20 weeks prior to eligibility for benefits benefits.

That change “helps” when it comes to bringing Republicans on board with the unemployment extension, the source said.

Another possible compromise was to strip a Democrat-supported tax increase on wealthy couples to offset the cost of expanded GI benefits in the bill, the source added.

The tentative agreement has not yet been pitched to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) or other Democratic leaders, the source said, so its fate is still unclear.

One House Republican leadership aide complained that Democrats “need to figure out what their strategy is” sooner rather than later because funding will run out for the troops by mid-July.

“If they want to work with us, then there is a clear path forward,” said the aide. “If they don’t, then it is likely we will end up in the same spot we were in a few weeks ago: with the House passing a bill Republicans couldn’t support and the Senate sending a bill back that Democrats couldn’t support.”