I thought the vote would be epically close. Instead it was a snooze — with one caveat: 59 Republicans voted no, which would have been enough to kill it had Democrats united against it in order to make life hard for Boehner. Instead, thanks in part to Steny Hoyer, 81 of them voted yes (versus 108 who voted no, including Pelosi). I’m mighty curious to know what their calculus was. Were they afraid Obama would look bad if they torpedoed a deal he signed off on? Or are there still enough Democrats left in purplish districts that they wanted to bank some budget-cutting cred ahead of next year’s elections?
A third possibility: Maybe Hoyer, like everyone else in D.C., already has his eyes on the debt-ceiling fight and figured he’d use this vote to remind all sides that centrist Democrats are the key to a compromise.
“We have a choice to make,” Hoyer said. “That choice is whether we will come together, work together, try to make the best possible agreement that we can make and then move together. I think the American public expects us to do that.”
Only a handful of Democrats spoke out against the deal, and many more welcomed the ability of Republicans to back away from steeper cuts in H.R. 1, the House-passed spending bill that would have cut $61 billion compared to Obama’s budget request instead of the nearly $40 billion agreed to last week…
Even during the debate, Republican leaders sought to fight off concerns that the eleventh-hour budget deal would not cut the $39.9 billion negotiators advertised. Conservatives criticized the division of cuts between discretionary and mandatory spending, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report late Wednesday that found the legislation shaves only $352 million in non-emergency spending this year.
“I just think it’s total nonsense,” Boehner said of that analysis. “A cut is a cut. The final agreement cuts nearly $40 billion in budget authority, taking away the license to spend the money, which will result in a deficit savings of an estimated $315 billion over the next decade.”
Here’s the roll. Most of the blogosphere’s favorites ended up in the minority, with Kristi Noem a notable exception. Boehner’s built quite a base of loyalty within the caucus already, it seems, to have hit 260 on a bill that’s being derided by tea-party rock stars. Dozens more Republicans could have protected themselves here by peeling off at the end of the vote and letting Boehner win 220-215 or something like that, but they stuck with him. The strategy, I assume, is to make sure the White House knows he has their full(ish) support as the debt ceiling fight begins.
For your amusement, here’s Democrat Joe Crowley pretending that ignoring jobs in favor of agenda items wasn’t the very reason his own caucus was reduced to a rump minority last year.
Update: Commenters are noting that Paul Ryan also voted yes. Indeed, but there’s no way he was voting against Boehner after the leadership gave him carte blanche on the 2012 budget. That’s not to make excuses for him — maybe he thinks the budget deal is just fab — but if you were expecting a no from him on this just a day before the House votes on his own plan, you’re kidding yourself.
Update: I wonder what Hoyer’s price was for this:
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) contacted Hoyer on Wednesday and asked for his help, said GOP and Democratic sources…
In addition to out-and-out supporters, Dicks and Hoyer built up back-pocket votes — those from lawmakers who were likely to oppose the bill but would be willing to cast “yes” votes if asked to. One member of the House Appropriations Committee told POLITICO that he had indicated to Dicks his vote would be there if it were needed.