Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the plenary power to bring a bill to the floor of the House, and no parliamentary procedure can help a minority to block a majority will to pass it. That’s one fact that has to be remembered while Pelosi and Barney Frank blame the House GOP over the collapse of the bailout bill:
“I didn’t know I was going to be the referee for an internal G.O.P. ideological civil war,” Mr. Frank said, according to The A.P.Thursday, in the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.
“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”
Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”
If Pelosi has her entire caucus in line to support the Paulson plan, then she has the vote to pass it. Some estimates have as many as 50 Republicans ready to support the plan in defiance of Boehner. If that’s true, Pelosi could lose all of her Blue-Dog Democrats and still pass the bill.
So why not just call a vote? Pelosi doesn’t want to get married to George Bush, that’s why. She wants to spread the political risk and get consensus on a bailout plan so that the responsibility for any failure doesn’t rest solely on her shoulders, at least in the House. Both Pelosi and Harry Reid wanted John McCain to deliver both GOP caucuses to cover their own butts on the bailout bill, and McCain — at least thus far — hasn’t convinced Boehner to do so.
It appears that Reid has enough Republicans on board to survive a filibuster. George Bush will happily sign the bill as soon as he gets it from Capitol Hill. Pelosi could deliver that bill with plenty of votes to spare simply by scheduling a vote. She lacks the courage to do so. That’s not the fault of the House GOP.
Update (AP): All of this is true but it’s also why McCain’s going to take the blame if they can’t pass it. Pelosi doesn’t need votes, she needs political cover; Maverick can’t give her the former but, as the GOP’s nominee, he can singlehandedly give her the latter by endorsing the deal. If he doesn’t, the consequences will be laid at his feet.