I’m kicking myself for not thinking to count them up last night after the vote on the big Sandy pork package. Boehner’s taking all the heat for violating the Hastert Rule by bringing two high-profile bills to the floor that were opposed by a majority of his majority, but he couldn’t pass them himself. There’s some critical mass of centrist GOPers who are voting with the Democrats to push these things through. Who are they? Taegan Goddard counted heads:
Rodney Alexander (La.), Lou Bartletta (Pa.), Tom Cole (Okla.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Charles Dent (Pa.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Michael Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Rodney Frelinghuyse (N.J.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Peter King (N.Y.), Leonard Lance (N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Frank Lucas (Okla.), Tom Marino (Pa.), Buck McKeon (Calif.), Pat Meehan (Pa.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), David Reichert (Wash.), Harold Rogers (Ky.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Jon Runyon (N.J.), Jim Shimkus (Ill.), Chris Smith (N.J.), Don Young (Alaska), C.W. Bill Young (Fla).
That’s 29 Republicans willing to take a very tough vote not once but twice with the national spotlight on them. And if they’re willing to do it twice, why wouldn’t they do it again when Boehner inevitably asks them to make a deal with the Democrats to avoid hitting the debt ceiling? Pelosi only needs 18 if she can hold House Democrats together. And judging from how business is responding to the prospect of a “default,” those 29 will have cover from some prominent Republicans:
“I’m agreeing with the president — you should not be using the debt limit as a bargaining chip when it comes to how you run the country,” said David M. Cote, chief executive of Honeywell, and a Republican. “You don’t put the full faith and credit of the United States at risk.”
As a new warning was issued Tuesday about a possible credit downgrade, even the hard-line conservative group Americans for Prosperity, financed by the billionaire Koch family, urged Republicans not to use the debt limit as leverage for deep spending cuts.
Other conservatives argue that the GOP’s plan B, i.e. minimizing the risk of a default by forcing Treasury to pay America’s creditors first if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, won’t do much to avert a crisis:
But former advisers to Republican President George W. Bush say the idea is unworkable for a number of reasons, including the fact that tax revenue does not come in at the same rate that payments are due…
“Is the government really going to be in the position of withholding benefits, salaries, rent, contract payments etc., in order to pay off Treasury bondholders? That would be a political catastrophe,” [Bush economic advisor Tony] Fratto said…
Keith Hennessey, Bush’s National Economic Council director, said prioritization was a bad idea that could increase credit risk and said it would be irresponsible.
“Payment prioritization doesn’t stop payments, it just delays them. Then the aggrieved party sues the government, and probably wins, and it turns into a bloody mess,” Hennessey, now an economist at Stanford, said in a blog post this week.
Conn Carroll imagines a scenario where the House passes a bill tying a debt-ceiling hike to a balanced budget, whereupon Reid turns around and calls Boehner’s bluff by passing a clean debt-ceiling hike through the Senate — with Republican help. What do the 29 Republican House defectors do then? Anyone trust Boehner not to bring that bill to the floor, especially if it’s another midnight deadline situation?
Update: Hastert Rule, RIP:
“That rule is completely dead,” one Republican aide said. “The Democrats now effectively control the floor because nothing ‘big’ will come to the floor without knowing in advance that lots of Democrats support it. That gives the Democrats tremendous power in a body where the minority is not designed to have much power.”…
“Maybe you can do it once, maybe you can do it twice, but when you start making deals when you have to get Democrats to pass the legislation, you are not in power anymore,” [Dennis Hastert] said on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade & Friends.” “When you start passing stuff that your members are not in line with, all of a sudden your ability to lead is in jeopardy because somebody else is making decisions. The president is making decisions, Pelosi is making decisions, or they are making the decisions in the Senate.”