Open thread: House to vote on Reid’s debt bill — before he offers it; Update: 43 GOP senators sign letter opposing Reid’s bill; Update: House defeats Reid’s bill, 173/246 — with Democratic help

posted at 1:41 pm on July 30, 2011 by Allahpundit

The vote’s set for 2:15 p.m. ET or shortly thereafter. With the outcome assured, why bother going through the motions and formally administering the coup de grace? Simple: Reid’s going to call a cloture vote on something at around 1 a.m. ET tonight (he has to do so for procedural reasons in order to beat the clock on Tuesday), and if he can’t hammer out a deal with McConnell before then, he might be tempted to call Senate Republicans’ bluff by offering his own bill as it currently stands and daring them to filibuster it. Boehner wants to discourage that by killing that bill now and forcing him, at the very least, to present something tonight that’s more favorable to Republicans.

Per the last link, an intriguing hint that Senate Dems might cave at the last second:

Reid, a canny legislative infighter, appears to be leaving himself a safety valve, however: The Democratic leader has set an evening Senate vote that essentially would leave Boehner’s bill on parliamentary life support — leaving Senate leaders the option of revive it at the last minute if no other deal to raise the debt ceiling is reached.

I assume that means they might strip out the BBA and pass the rest of Boehner’s bill as is, and then hope that Boehner can get a few Democrats to join him next time in passing that through the House. Meanwhile, what happens if Reid’s bill fails tonight? Well, then things get messy: “Even if a bipartisan accord is reached when the Senate is in the cloture process, Reid would need unanimous consent to swap in any compromise measure, an unlikely scenario given the passions in the fight.” I.e. DeMint or Rand Paul could block any new compromise bill before Tuesday on their own, which means it’s now or never. No wonder veteran lawmakers are starting to think they won’t make the deadline. We’ll know more soon: Reid’s called a presser for 3 p.m. ET, no doubt to whine about the House shooting his own bill down.

It’s going to be a long day, so here’s your thread. Stand by for updates, and if you missed Ed’s post this morning about Reid’s new and “improved” bill, read that for essential background. In fact, it’s even less improved than you think: According to CBO, the total savings in the new bill are the same as the savings in the previous version. Exit question: Would DeMint or Paul really hold out on their own and make Treasury hit the ceiling if a bipartisan deal’s been brokered? I’m guessing they’d force Reid to grant them some sort of vote, maybe on a balanced-budget amendment, as their price for relenting.

Update: Another exit question for you. How long will it be today before we hear the first whispers about a two- or three-day debt-ceiling hike in order to keep negotiations going? If Reid’s deadline for passing something really is 1 a.m., he’d better have a bill to that effect ready to go.

Update: Via John McCormack, Senate Republicans have sent a letter to Reid urging him not to waste his time with the current bill. But there’s a hitch:

43 GOP senators sign bill saying they oppose Reid bill. Brown, Collins, Snowe, Murkowski didn’t sign it.

Last I heard, Joe Manchin is still a no so Reid is stuck at 56. Anyone think Manchin will hold out, though, if Reid can get to 59 with Republicans?

Update: That’s that. Reid’s bill burns in the House, 173/246 — with 11 Democrats voting no. Not sure who they are yet; probably liberals who were unhappy with his cuts-only approach, but we’ll see when the roll comes out. A curious detail: Two Republicans initially voted yes before changing their votes. Stand by while we wait to find out who they are.

Update: Reid and Pelosi are on their way to the White House for a huddle with The One.

Update: Here’s the House roll. The 11 Democrats who voted no: Barrow, Boren, Braley, Loebsack, Matheson, McIntyre, Peterson, Ross (AR), Schrader, Visclosky, and, er, David Wu. So it wasn’t just liberals in opposition.

Update: Hmmmmm:

McConnell says he’s now “fully engaged” with POTUS; the dance is done. The dealing has begun

Update: As of 4 p.m. ET, things are starting to move:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Saturday afternoon that he had talked to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden “within the last hour” and is “confident and optimistic” that there will be an “agreement within the very near future.”

A national default “is not going to happen,” McConnell said.

Update: Late-afternoon news from Politico: Republican moderates are warning Boehner that they don’t intend to take this plunge alone.

“House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) met Saturday with a group of two or three dozen moderates, who told him they want a debt-limit deal that attracts a broad swath of Republicans, not just Democrats and a handful of centrists.

According to participants, Boehner agreed with the premise: It’s not tenable for him to move forward on a bill that only gets support from a small portion of the Republican Conference.”

Breaking on Hot Air