Open thread: Boehnergeddon; Update: Vote delayed; Update: Boehner may hold vote whether he has the votes or not
posted at 5:29 pm on July 28, 2011 by Allahpundit
In case you can’t get to a TV to watch live, here’s C-SPAN’s streaming video feed. The vote is set to happen between 5:45 and 6:15 p.m. ET — unless, of course, Boehner’s coalition falls apart and he ends up yanking the bill in humiliation. If you missed the last update in the previous thread, that seemed increasingly likely as of 4 p.m.:
Boehner and his lieutenants are publicly expressing confidence, but their actions clearly show that they are still rounding up support. Boehner on Thursday afternoon was seen lobbying members, seeking “yes” votes in what is the biggest vote of his Speakership.
There are 22 House Republicans who will vote no or are leaning no, according to The Hill’s whip count. There are more than three dozen Republicans who are publicly undecided, and 12 of them said or suggested on Thursday that they are still on the fence.
Remember, he can only afford to lose 24 Republicans; as of 4:35 p.m. ET, The Hill’s whip count has him losing … 25. Jeff Flake suggested he’d be open to passing Reid’s bill if and only if a balanced-budget amendment is tacked on. That’s a clever ploy insofar as it would isolate the BBA as the sticking point in the negotiations. If Democrats are prepared to shoot that down and embrace a default, let them explain to the public why forcing Congress to balance its budget each year is worth tanking the economy over.
Ironically, Reid probably doesn’t have the votes to get his own bill through the Senate. Joe Manchin has already said he won’t vote for either bill, and I’ve heard nothing about Scott Brown or the Maine twins breaking ranks with the GOP. Guy Benson flags a HuffPo story, in fact, that suggests Reid won’t even bring his bill to the floor. And indeed, just as I’m writing this, here’s what the Journal is reporting:
According to a senior Senate Democratic aide, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) will invite Republican leaders to propose changes to a plan he supports to raise the $14.29 trillion debt ceiling and cut more than $2 trillion from federal budget deficits.
The aide said that Mr. Reid will put Republicans on the clock, setting a deadline for them to put forward a workable solution to resolving the parties’ differences on how to raise the borrowing limit. If they fail to take up the offer, the aide said that Mr. Reid will hold a straight up-or-down vote on his proposal in “coming days.”
“That would be the last opportunity to avert default and it will be on Republicans,” the aide said.
There’s more to say but things are moving fast, so let’s get this thread up now. Updates to come, so please stand by.
Update: Surprise — they’re pushing the vote back until later tonight, which can only mean that they still don’t have the votes. I wonder if they’re still trying to chase people down or if Boehner has now secretly abandoned his own bill and is taking Reid up on his offer of some sort of compromise. Maybe instead of a vote tonight, we’ll get the announcement of a deal.
Update: Lots of buzz on Twitter over this report in the Columbus Dispatch about Jim Jordan’s seat possibly being eliminated as punishment for yesterday’s “unpleasantness” in the caucus meeting. I’d bet the mortgage against it happening: The last thing House Republicans need next year is open warfare with tea partiers, which is exactly what they’d get if Jordan was axed for vindictive reasons. Boehner’s already issued a statement dismissing the whole thing.
And speaking of war between the caucus and the tea party, here’s Palin’s new Facebook message warning the freshmen that “Everyone I talk to still believes in contested primaries.” I can’t wait for the primary campaign against Allen West. Can we have one against Paul Ryan too?
Update: Fox’s Ed Henry confirms that Boehner doesn’t have the votes.
Update: Wondering which groups will be first to get paid by Treasury come next week when we hit the ceiling? The answer may surprise you!
Officials have said repeatedly that Treasury does not have the legal authority to pay bills based on political, moral or economic considerations. It cannot, for instance, set aside invoices from weapons companies to preserve money for children’s programs.
The implication is that the government will need to pay bills in the order that they come due. President Obama has warned as a result that the government “cannot guarantee” payments of Social Security benefits or other popular programs. Officials also have disputed the assertion of some Republicans that the government could prioritize interest payments.
Treasury’s going to hold a briefing tomorrow — after the markets close — on how it plans to prioritize payments. Although I suspect Congress will intervene and at least pass something ordering them to pay creditors first, then the military, then entitlements, etc.
Update: One of the silver linings in this very dark cloud is that it’s driven Democrats to get extra creative with their demagoguery. Guy Benson has a nifty round-up of that in case you’re bored while waiting for the vote. My favorite? I honestly can’t decide between the White House lamenting that the GOP’s going to steal Christmas and Pelosi warning that the GOP budget would threaten “life on this planet as we know it today.”
Update: I’m thinking about this passage from Keith Hennessey’s post on why he grudgingly supports Boehner’s bill:
Months of conservative threats have defined who is responsible if there is a crisis in August. A few vocal conservative Members have argued for months that default isn’t so bad, that they are willing to risk a cash crunch in early August, and that they don’t believe Secretary Geithner’s August 2nd deadline. This has been quite effective. It shifted the leverage and ensuing negotiations enough so that this week only the President is talking about tax increases and he sounds odd doing so. Markets and Washington alike are afraid that conservatives might actually tempt fate and prevent a debt limit increase, and that fear has created leverage to produce the current legislative situation.
The downside of this tactic is that if the deadline passes without legislation, you can’t turn around and blame the other guy for whatever damage occurs in August. For months the President has been saying “August 2nd is a deadline,” while a vocal faction of Republicans has been saying “No, it isn’t.” If conservatives vote no, Congress does not act, and bad things happen after August 2nd, those Republicans will get the blame because they assigned it to themselves over the prior few months.
That’s a huge risk even if Boehner’s bill passes. If it doesn’t pass and we hit the ceiling, then the Democrats can lacquer their talking point by claiming that conservatives insisted on hitting the ceiling and risking an economic earthquake even over the objections of their own leadership. That’s a hard, hard narrative to combat; as our Greenroomer Karl has argued lately, the average voter cares less about deficits and Cut, Cap, and Balance than he does about jobs and the recovery. Right now that dynamic favors the GOP, but if the post-August 2nd fallout is bad and the “runaway caucus” meme takes hold, that could change. Not a good day for the long game.
Update: Why on earth would Boehner do this?
One lawmaker tells me that Speaker Boehner may have the vote in about an hour, whether he has the votes or not
If the outcome’s in doubt, just pull the bill and announce that your hand was forced by Reid’s ultimatum to shoot it down in the Senate. Say you’re acting in the interest of the public good because there’s not much time until the deadline and obviously a compromise bill is the only thing capable of passing both houses. By holding a vote when he doesn’t know the outcome, he’s gambling that the holdouts will blink and hand him a victory under intense pressure. But if he’s wrong, his credibility as a power-broker will be shattered and the vote will enable precisely the sort of Democratic outcome I described in the last update. I don’t get it.
A note of hope from NRO’s Andrew Stiles: “Paul Ryan tells me they’re gonna pass this thing. Says he’s confident.”