I could have sworn the parties had a deal two days ago. But that was before lefty heroes like Elizabeth Warren and Barney Frank weighed in against the bill because of how it would roll back parts of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
Two days later, Pelosi’s walking away.
Dear Democratic Colleague,
It is clear from this recess on the floor that the Republicans don’t have enough votes to pass the CRomnibus. This increases our leverage to get two offensive provisions of the bill removed: the bank bailout and big money for campaigns provision.
However you decide to vote in the end, I thank those who continue to give us leverage to improve the bill.
Boehner got no Democratic yays for the test vote earlier today, but that was before the White House formally endorsed the deal. Maybe Pelosi feared that Obama’s support would free a few centrist Dems to lend Boehner a hand in getting to 218 and she felt she had to warn them they’d be deemed traitors to the cause for doing so. (Watch her floor speech below.) Can’t blame her for calculating that way. If you were looking to stay on the left’s good side, whom would you side with? Progressive heartthrob Elizabeth Warren or the lame duck who just got obliterated for the second midterm election in a row?
Is what she says correct, though? Does Boehner really lack the votes? Apparently, yeah:
Unsure whether they have the votes to pass a trillion-dollar federal spending package, House GOP leaders on Thursday afternoon delayed a final vote on the “cromnibus.”…
GOP leaders called a recess to floor proceedings, with a GOP leadership aide confirming “no conference meeting [is] planned at this time.” The aide said “leadership teams are still talking to their respective members,” and noted, “We still plan to vote this afternoon.”
It’s not clear, however, what they will be voting on.
If Republicans can’t surmount the impasse, they could decide to proceed with swiftly moving a short-term continuing resolution through the chamber, which the Senate could also pass before 11:59 p.m., when current funding expires.
Two sources told NRO’s Joel Gehrke that Boehner actually promised wavering Republicans during the test vote earlier today that he’d pull the cromnibus and replace it with a clean, short-term spending bill if they spared him the humiliation of losing the test vote. Supposedly that’s why conservative Marlin Stutzman agreed to vote yes; without Stutzman (or anyone else), the vote would have ended in a 213-213 tie.
Two questions now. One: Why is Pelosi opposing a bill that would give her side half a loaf when the GOP will control both houses next month and can write a bill that gives them none (or rather, only as much as the lame duck Obama insists on)? I think Leon Wolf has the answer to that. The politics of opposing a new giveaway to Wall Street might be worth more to Democrats than the concessions made by the GOP in the bill itself are. (It’s revealing that the GOP isn’t eagerly blaming Elizabeth Warren for risking a shutdown by trying to block a pro-Wall Street provision, notes Benjy Sarlin.) If you think lefty Warren-style economic populism is the way to go, especially in 2016, why not take your fingerprints off the bill and let Obama decide whether to sign a new pro-Wall Street GOP offering next month? If he does, House Dems can say they’re blameless. And if they raise enough of a stink now, left-wing pressure on Obama might convince him to veto it.
Two: With eight hours to go before the government runs out of money and shuts down, will Reid agree to a short-term CR? If so, how short-term? More funding for one week is probably okay by him, as he’ll still be majority leader next Thursday. A clean 10-month funding bill is probably okay with him too, as it’ll lock the new Senate Republican majority into a compromise spending bill for a good long while. But as Gabe Malor argued on Twitter, a one-month CR is no good: All it means is that he’ll be handing the baton to Mitch McConnell, destroying his own leverage over negotiations. Problem is, if Reid blocks a one-month CR, the government will shut down. And quite possibly, instead of the usual narrative blaming the GOP for the shutdown, the media will have no choice but to blame Reid, Warren, and Pelosi. Frankly, I hope it happens. I’m curious to see our friends in the press, longtime believers in the idea that few things in life are worse than a shutdown, suddenly discover that shutdowns caused by a stand on principle are pretty sweet after all. A week characterized by stark media embarrassments could use another. Stay tuned.
Update: Kevin Glass notes an odd transformation in the media’s shutdown coverage this time.
Instead of “Why Democrats Want to Shut Down the Government,” we get “Warren tells House Dems not to support omnibus.” Instead of “Elizabeth Warren and the shutdown caucus,” we get “Spending bill teeters amid Democratic discontent.” Instead of “Elizabeth Warren Is Protesting the Shutdown She Asked For” we have “Elizabeth Warren Joinse Revolt Against Wall Street Deal In Government Shutdown Talks.
Last year, Ted Cruz’s push against the government spending deal was all about how Ted Cruz wants a shutdown. But when Elizabeth Warren threatens to torpedo a spending deal that will result in a shutdown, it’s all about her courage in standing up to Wall Street and her populist movement against fat cats. Everyone loves a good story about intrapartisan fighting on Capitol Hill, but only the media wants to hide that what’s behind Elizabeth Warren’s crusade is that she wants to shut down the government to achieve her goals.
Update (Ed): Looks like Boehner’s hedging his bets:
— Major Garrett (@MajorCBS) December 11, 2014
That would give Barack Obama a couple of more days to twist enough arms to get the bill to pass the House. If he can’t find those votes, well …
If Obama's full-court press for omni fails, he will be history's lamest duck.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) December 11, 2014
Update (Ed): Obama just sent his chief of staff Denis McDonough to meet with the House Democratic caucus. The White House has gone from reluctant acceptance to cheerleader very, very quickly. They are way out on a limb here.
Update: Looks like Boehner’s going to roll the dice and hold a floor vote on the cromnibus anyway. Should happen sometime in the 9 p.m. ET hour. He’s got a shot at 218: I saw on Twitter that at least one House Democrat claimed he’d vote yes after the huddle with McDonough.
If you’re looking for another reason to root against the cromnibus, here’s one: It’ll be received as a show of Warren’s clout among Democrats, which will make Hillary a bit more nervous about a primary challenge than she was yesterday. In fact, Democrat Jim Moran thinks 2016 is one of Warren’s motives in taking the stand she’s taken.
Update: And yet another clue for how you should be rooting:
Defeating #CRominbus would only strengthen hand of GOP. But it would eviscerate Obama.
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) December 12, 2014
We’re about to find out just how lame the lame duck is.
Update: Turns out the lame duck isn’t completely lame yet. Boehner lost 67 Republicans — but, thanks to McDonough’s arm-twisting, picked up 57 Democrats, more than enough to salvage the bill, 219-206. I’ll have the roll as soon as it’s available. In the end, despite lefty pressure, it made too much sense for Dems to vote yes. They’re not going to get a better deal next month when McConnell’s running the Senate; they were taking a risk in flirting with a shutdown, something the GOP could use against them later; and, like Dan McLaughlin said, the humiliation to Obama if the bill failed despite McDonough’s pleading would have been greater than the humiliation to Boehner. There’s a reason that Pelosi pointedly refused to whip against the bill, as noted in the excerpt all the way at the top of this post (“However you decide to vote in the end…”).
Money question now: Are there 41 votes in the Senate to filibuster this big bloated whale of a bill? With Cruz leading tea partiers against it and Warren leading liberals, there’s a fair chance at a rare left/right joint effort to kill it. Stay tuned.
Update: Still no roll yet but keep refreshing this page. It’ll be there shortly.