A traditional “Quotes of the Day” post won’t cut it today with a shutdown looming at midnight and Boehner trying to find a way between the RINO/tea party Scylla and Charybdis, so here’s your evening thread to banter about developments. The big news late this afternoon is that Peter King and Charlie Dent are trying to organize 20 or so centrist Republicans to vote no on Boehner’s Plan C resolution that would delay ObamaCare’s individual mandate for a year and pass the Vitter amendment. Robert Costa hears that King has already lined up 10 or so votes, with more possibly on the way. If the RINOs succeed in killing Plan C because they’re tired of the shutdown game, Boehner will be forced to choose between sticking with the 30 or so conservatives who don’t want to budge an inch on O-Care and the 20 or so centrists who want to end this process before there’s any real damage done to the party. Both Byron York and King himself estimate that two-thirds of the Republican caucus, i.e. 175 members, would vote for a clean CR if they didn’t fear a grassroots backlash in the primaries. (Says King: “Including some of the people who got elected as tea-party candidates from the South. You talk to them, they think this is crazy.”) That’s the heart of the suspense right now: Can King find enough centrists willing to risk conservative wrath by opposing any further ObamaCare demands? Even King doesn’t know:
New York representative Peter King is leading the charge, and his fellow New Yorker Michael Grimm is close behind him. The group told leadership on Saturday they have 25 members who are willing to bring down the rule.
That number of defections would defeat the rule, which, like all such votes, is a party-line affair. But “how many of them are going to follow up today with the pressure and everything else, I don’t know,” King told me in a phone interview.
King wants to pass a clean continuing-resolution bill. “This is going nowhere,” he says about the standoff with Senate Democrats. He notes that “if Obamacare is as bad as we say it’s going to be, then we should pick up a lot of seats in the next election and we should win the presidency in 2016. This idea of going through the side door to take something you lost through the front door – to me it’s wrong.”
Case in point: Republican Devin Nunes said the party was behaving like “lemmings with suicide vests” — but he’s going to vote for Plan C anyway. Turn on C-SPAN right now at 7:05 ET for a vote on the rule that would bring Plan C to the floor. King could try to stop it there or, if he loses this vote, he could try to build more support over the next half hour or so to stop the bill once it gets an up-or-down vote on the floor. Stand by for updates.
Update: One ironic possibility: What if King musters 20 or so Republican centrists to vote no — and Boehner ends up with 20 or so House Democrats voting yes, either because they want the individual mandate delayed too or just because they want to force this process closer to a shutdown that they think will be good for their party? Passing Plan C, which Reid will surely reject, gets us that much closer to midnight still deadlocked.
POTUS called all four congressional leaders (Reid, Pelosi, McConnell, Boehner) this evening. Call to @SpeakerBoehner lasted 10 minutes.
— Major Garrett (@MajorCBS) September 30, 2013
Pete Sessions is telling Democrats to be patient, as a solution may be in the works:
With just hours to go before a midnight deadline to keep government funded, Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions has just told frustrated Democrats on that panel to “stay calm,” and be ready and available for late-night action as House Republicans try “to play this out.”…
“I’m encouraging you. And I’m saying to you we’re doing the right thing, we’re trying to play this out,” Sessions told the Rules Committee Democrat, saying he understood their frustration.
But he said, “As we get closer to midnight then that frustration level, perhaps, will be answered.”
Two easy predictions. One: As the night drags on, McConnell’s one-week stopgap clean CR will seem more attractive to both sides. Better to punt for awhile so that Boehner can figure out a way forward than remain deadlocked. The question is, will Reid change his mind and accept a one-week bill if that’s the last chance to avoid a shutdown before midnight? Two: The fact that you’ve got centrist Republicans talking openly about voting for a clean CR and possibly even voting with Democrats to thwart the conservatives’ anti-ObamaCare means the party has very little leverage headed into debt-ceiling negotiations. If RINOs are chafing at a shutdown, which is a relatively minor bit of brinksmanship, they’re surely not going to risk a default to play this game again. That’s another reason Boehner could use another week to plot a strategy. If he was planning another game of chicken over the debt limit, he’ll have to reconsider.
Update: And as quickly as it began, the RINO revolt fizzles. Only six Republicans voted against the rule to bring Plan C to the floor — and four of them objected to it not because it was too conservative but because it wasn’t conservative enough:
R No votes: Bachmann, Broun, Dent, Gohmert, King (IA), King (NY)
— Jonathan Strong (@j_strong) September 30, 2013
That’s a win for the tea party: Doubtless there are more centrists who’d prefer to vote for King, but they’re too worried about their own seats to do it right now. Presumably this means Plan C will pass. Then Reid will torpedo it. And then? Will more moderates risk a tough vote for a clean CR? Could be that Boehner urged the centrists to stick with him for now, with a promise that a more centrist solution will be offered later once the deadlock advances.
Via the Weekly Standard, here’s Ted Cruz urging the Senate to pass Plan C. Interestingly, notes John McCormack, Cruz said last week he’d support nothing short of defunding ObamaCare.
Update: Robert Costa explains why the RINO revolt fizzled — a combination of cold feet and leadership pressure:
What happened to King's bloc? Will speak with him a few… his circle was buzzing, seems ldrship talked many down on floor…
— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) September 30, 2013
Amazing to me how many House Rs sound like Dent and King behind scenes, yet when rule vote rally builds, they get cold feet and duck away
— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) September 30, 2013
Update: Put on some coffee:
King predicts "at least two" more back and forths on CR before a clean one can come to house floor. "Gonna be a long night" he says.
— KateNocera (@KateNocera) September 30, 2013
If a clean CR is a fait accompli eventually, why bother with the theatrics of a few more that limit ObamaCare? Tea partiers won’t care about the ol’ college try if the ultimate result is simply to give Obama what he wants.