House Dems to Boehner: If you drop the ObamaCare demands and pass a clean CR, we'll accept sequestration spending levels; Update: Could next House CR fail?

I’m surprised they’d even offer. A little while ago, I tweeted out a question: Since there are surely more than 30 Republicans who’d vote for Reid’s clean CR, why doesn’t Pelosi bring a discharge petition forcing Boehner to hold a vote on it? That’s an unorthodox procedure, granted, but this is an unusual situation. When people inevitably complain that the minority caucus has usurped the power of the majority in the House, Pelosi could simply say that that’s what Republicans were trying to do in the Senate. Boehner would probably welcome it, frankly, since the result would be to avoid the shutdown while also absolving him of any personal responsibility for caving.

The answer to my question, as about 50 different people noted, is that Pelosi and the Democrats want a shutdown. Fair enough (although you may see the “discharge petition” strategy revived for the debt-ceiling fight). If they want a shutdown, though, why offer Boehner anything? Tell him to pass a bill at the spending levels Democrats prefer. No compromise. Take it or leave it. Instead:

Locking in sequestration spending levels for the next, er, six weeks would let Boehner save a teeny tiny bit of face in caving. He’s not at that point yet — Plan C in the House, now that Reid’s killed the last House CR, is to demand a one-year delay to the individual mandate plus passage of Vitter’s amendment denying ObamaCare subsidies for Congress and staff — but the fact that the House GOP has now lowered its ask price three times suggests that we’re heading for a cave sooner rather than later. National Journal reports that House Republicans seemed split coming out of the caucus meeting this afternoon, with Don Young claiming that they don’t have the votes to do anything right now. To put it mildly:

NJ claims that Plan C won’t be voted on in the House until 6 p.m. ET at the earliest. Does that mean a clean CR is shaping up as Plan D very late tonight, right before midnight? Nope, says Paul Ryan: There’s no way they’ll do that before the deadline. Maybe that’s the outline of a compromise within the GOP — force a shutdown for some predetermined period and then, if Democrats haven’t softened on ObamaCare by the end of it due to the public outcry, Boehner gets to float a clean CR at sequestration spending levels. That might get him a majority of Republicans; conservatives will still vote no, but if he follows the Hastert Rule, it might protect his own standing within the caucus. If, per the clip below, Charlie Dent is already talking openly about a clean CR, there must be a fair number of centrist GOPers who are already ready to cave.

The good-ish news this afternoon is that, per WaPo’s new poll, the public disapproves of how Obama, congressional Democrats, and congressional Republicans have handled this process. The GOP gets it the worst at 26/63 but across-the-board thumbs down are not the stuff of which lasting political defeats are made. Exit quotation from smilin’ Harry Reid, ever the diplomat: “If we can’t pass this, we’re only truly entering a banana republican mindset.”

Update: So that’s what Don Young meant when he said they don’t have the votes for anything.

Some House conservatives won’t vote for Plan C (a one-year delay of the mandate plus the Vitter amendment) because it’s too weak compared to defunding. Some House centrists won’t vote for it because, I guess, they’re tired of playing games with hours to go before shutdown by passing bills that are clearly doomed in the Senate. Possible result: The new House CR might actually fail as righties and moderates join Democrats in voting no. What Boehner does after that embarrassment, with his own caucus having fallen apart, I have no idea.

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