The Republican House Caucus is expected to vote on the selection of the next Speaker of the House on Wednesday with Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WS) the likely winner. Shortly after that they will be confronted with a possible vote on raising the debt ceiling. Ryan announced his intention to run in the middle of last week when he was able to obtain the support of a majority of the self-described Freedom Caucus. After that decision the debt ceiling will be reached on November 3 and it is not clear how and when the House will take action and who will take that action.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will be able to leave on his scheduled time, the end of October and he may make the debt ceiling one of his last leadership actions. He would do this as a way to clear the issue from Ryan’s immediate agenda. Boehner had been working on Ryan to get him to run and he may give him such as assist as a departing gift. A debt ceiling increase will likely be dependent on all House Democrats but it would still require approximately 32 Republican votes. It would also mean that Boehner would have to bypass his own party in getting the ceiling raised. This past week House Republicans had planned to pass a debt ceiling increase with a number of provisions that would have never passed the Senate. It included a ban on new regulations as well as the elimination of the filibuster in the Senate. While the Senate would have never passed the Senate, Senators might have stripped the measure of all the extra features passed it and then send it back to the House for quick action. That never happened because the Republican leadership in the House could not get enough Republican votes to pass that measure.
The House did pass a reconciliation bill (HR 3762) last week but that legislation, once debated and voted on in the Senate will be vetoed by the President. The legislation would eliminate key parts of the ACA. The reconciliation, once viewed as a key legislative tool for action in 2015, is moving will little attention as it has become more of a political statement than significant legislation. The President also vetoed a Defense Authorization bill that would raise the spending level for the Defense Department. The President, who is seeking an increase in defense spending, has said any lifting of the budget caps is contingent on increases in both defense and domestic spending. That issue and the overall budget for 2016 will likely be the first major test for Congressman Ryan.