Boehner’s still twisting arms, but as of 8:30 p.m. the vote supposedly will happen tonight. And in a change from earlier, Reid’s promising that the Senate will in fact vote on Boehner’s bill if it passes instead of tabling it.
Krauthammer makes one last plea to push it through:
I have every sympathy with the conservative counterrevolutionaries. Their containment of the Obama experiment has been remarkable. But reversal — rollback, in Cold War parlance — is simply not achievable until conservatives receive a mandate to govern from the White House…
Obama faces two massive problems — jobs and debt. They’re both the result of his spectacularly failed Keynesian gamble: massive spending that left us a stagnant economy with high and chronic unemployment — and a staggering debt burden. Obama is desperate to share ownership of this failure. Economic dislocation from a debt-ceiling crisis precisely serves that purpose — if the Republicans play along. The perfect out: Those crazy tea partiers ruined the recovery!
Why would any conservative collaborate with that ploy? November 2012 constitutes the new conservatism’s one chance to restructure government and change the ideological course of the country. Why risk forfeiting that outcome by offering to share ownership of Obama’s wreckage?
I wasn’t watching, but on O’Reilly tonight Laura Ingraham supposedly asked Steve King, “How is killing your Speaker going to help the Tea Party movement?” On the flip side, Kos tweeted earlier, “I’ve got to say, watching Boehner’s speakership hang in the balance with the GOP divided has been hugely entertaining.” I’m glad someone’s happy.
Lefty Jon Chait makes a fair point in arguing that tonight’s vote really is important even though Boehner’s bill doesn’t have a prayer of passing the Senate as is. If it gets through the House, not only does the GOP get to hammer Reid with the talking point that they’ve passed a modest bill that Senate Dems should have no trouble agreeing to, they get more leverage in negotiating a final compromise with Reid. As things stand, if the bill fails, the risk increases of moderate Republicans in the House or Senate walking away and voting for Reid’s bill just to get something done. Kyl, Coburn, and Hutchison are already set to retire so they have nothing to fear from primaries; Murkowski is set until 2016; Susan Collins isn’t up for reelection until 2014 and she’s going to be primaried anyway; and no one’s going to risk primarying Scott Brown after the lessons of Delaware last year. Even with Manchin’s defection, that leaves Reid within two votes of passage. The Senate GOP caucus might hang together and block Reid if Boehner’s bill gets through the House, but if it fails then there’s no viable plan on the table. They might very well try to negotiate a few extra concessions from Reid and then pass his bill, which would set up the House for a Democratic-driven bipartisan vote to push it through.
Anyway. Whip count: Allen West hears they’re still two votes short as of now, but Jeb Hensarling and members of the whip team are optimistic that it’ll pass. Stand by for updates, needless to say. While we wait for news, here’s Jay Carney tonight on MSNBC talking about “taking action.” What’s that mean? You don’t suppose…
Update: Pence is now huddling with Boehner, leading reporters to speculate that they’re going to include a balanced-budget amendment in the package somehow. They can’t attach it directly to the bill, though, since a BBA needs two-thirds to pass and Boehner’s proposal will only get the bare majority.
Update: I didn’t see it but apparently Ann Coulter’s telling Hannity that it’s time to bite the bullet and pass Boehner’s bill. Primary Coulter!
Update: Meanwhile, the Republican frontrunner is oh so quiet…
NBC’s Garrett Haake reported that Mitt Romney told reporters in Ohio yesterday that he would not comment on the debt negotiations in Washington. And so far, he has refused to either endorse Boehner’s legislation (as Huntsman has done) or oppose it (as Pawlenty and Bachman have done). Our question: How does someone who wants to be the leader of the Republican Party not have a position on one of the biggest issues facing Washington, especially after the dueling primetime speeches by Obama and Boehner? It’s actually quite surprising; this isn’t just another Washington fight. Is the lack of a position proof of how fragile Team Romney believes its front-runner status is right now?
NBC posted that this morning. Did I miss him saying something about Boehner today or is Mitt still mum as of this evening?
Update: Former CBO chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin weeps for America:
Let’s start with the House Democrats who are content to make a political statement and sit on their hands. That means that the Boehner plan must pass with only Republican votes and Democrats don’t care if financial markets melt down tomorrow morning (they will). Defeat for America as they seek their political agenda…
And finally, let’s discuss the House Republicans who are standing on the brink of sending to the Senate — who will pass it — and the president — who will sign it — a piece of legislation that is consistent with their principles, if not perfect. Instead of simply voting yes, they have formed a variety of unproductive coalitions: the Coalition of the Willfully Ignorant (who claim you don’t need a debt-ceiling increase or that markets won’t care and their will be no fallout) and the Coalition of It’s Someone Else’s Problem (because I just want to have an issue and campaign). Result: They suffer a political loss and America loses.
Update: Four hours after the vote was supposed to begin, it’s come to this. Version one:
House Majority Whip: Members are advised to stay nearby as we still expect to vote later tonight – NBC News
House #GOP Leadership aide who earlier said the #debt vote wld happen tonight now says, “we’ll see” on if the vote will happen
Update: Supposedly Rand Paul just told Hannity that somewhere between 10 and 14 Republican senators are opposed to Boehner’s bill. That may surprise Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who thinks it’s sure to pass the Senate if it gets through the House, but it won’t surprise anyone else. We’re headed either for a compromise bill or Reid’s bill in the Senate.
Update: Via Mediaite, here’s the exchange between Coulter and Hannity.
Update: GOP whip Kevin McCarthy sends out the word: No vote tonight. Whether that means the bill is dead or that they’re going to try again tomorrow, no one knows yet. But after applying relentless pressure on the caucus for two days, the fact that they’re easing off and letting them go home presumably means they’re not going to present this thing as is tomorrow. Either they’ll tweak it and hope that that shakes a few votes loose or Boehner’s going to abandon the whole thing and huddle with Reid on some sort of bipartisan bill.
This isn’t as epic a defeat for him as losing on an actual roll call would be, but he’s weakened.
Update: Larry Sabato: “Bad news for Boehner. No, awful news. He’s badly embarrassed by his own caucus & loses much leverage to Senate.” Yeah, Reid and Pelosi are calling the shots on the final bill now.
Update: It’s still alive. The Rules Committee is meeting at 11 p.m. to tweak it in hopes of getting to 216 and then they’ll vote on it tomorrow.
Update: A liberal on Twitter warned me last night not to make too much of the lefty chatter about Obama’s supposed Fourteenth Amendment option since the White House itself has rejected it several times. Makes sense — except that Clyburn, who’s number three in the caucus, was rapturous about it yesterday. And now here’s none other than Steny Hoyer rattling the constitutional saber:
“It’s arguably his power to do so,” Hoyer told MSNBC.
“Very frankly, if it came down to his looking default in the eye on Tuesday or taking this action, as President Clinton said, better to take the action and find out later that perhaps he went beyond his authority but at least protected the credibility of the United States of America,” he said.
The remarks align Hoyer with a number of other House Democratic leaders, who are urging Obama to invoke the Constitution to prevent a government default if Congress fails to raise the debt limit before an Aug. 2 deadline.
Is that what Carney was alluding to in the clip I posted up top? Because let me tell you: If you think this standoff can’t become any more of a clusterfark, let the Democrats try to raise the debt ceiling on their own. Bedlam.