And the House Vote Is…..!

Delayed, at least as of this writing (at 10:11 p.m.).  Evidently Boehner and Cantor are trotting the fence-sitting Republicans in to Boehner’s office  to make the case for supporting the leadership bill, but it is simply too close to risk bringing the bill to vote.  If the blog sources are correct, Boehner is not offering earmarks in return for support.  As a congressional aide emailed me, “You talk about the legislative coffers — a few years ago they’d just promise a bridge and we’d be all good to go. Now they don’t have any arrows in the persuasive quiver. What are they going to say, vote for this bill or we’ll KEEP funding that agriculture program in your district???”

So what is Boehner offering?  My guess it’s a combination of tweaks to the bill to include a stronger “trigger” so that in a two-step debt ceiling process, Congress is forced to make more spending cuts in the second round next year, as well as a clean up-or-down vote on a balanced budget amendment.  Remember, many of the fiscal conservatives and Tea Partiers want to be able to go back to their districts and show that they voted for the balanced budget amendment, particular since several conservative lobbying groups (Club for Growth) have noted that they will score this as a key vote when rating legislators’ voting record.  If you are going to take a hit on this vote, at least soften it somewhat with a second one to balance the voting record.  And while it  is true that most of the “no” or “leaning no” votes are in safe districts, some of them may be concerned about getting primaried from the right.

But I think Boehner is also making the argument that it is important, in a multi-step bargaining game, that Republicans stick together on this first vote in order to force the Democrats in the Senate to go on record in opposition.   Republicans will still get a second shot at more spending cuts when the inevitable counteroffer comes from the Senate.  In short, Boehner is saying, “Don’t let my speakership fall because of this vote.  Send a signal that we will stick together.”

Meanwhile, as I follow the debate, there’s a couple of interesting tidbits to report.  First, Nancy Pelosi is promising anyone who will listen that Democrats will not support the Republican House bill.  In truth, Pelosi is largely irrelevant to this debate in the House  – I’m pretty sure Boehner is not thinking at this stage that he needs to win Democrats to pass this bill.

It now appears that the bill is going to be tweaked in the Rules Committee.  If so, and if I remember my parliamentary procedure correctly, that means the Leadership will need a vote on the new Rule before taking up the bill.  That can be done on an expedited basis, but it’s another complication.  This is looking like a late night.

I think I’ll stay with this post until my scotch runs out (Hint: it has never run out).   If you are following this, comments are welcome……

10:37 p.m.  Well, that was quick.  No sooner do  I  open the scotch bottle than multiple sources report Boehner has pulled the plug for tonight, so that the Rules Committee can tweak the bill and presumably issue a new rule prior to the vote tomorrow.  If that’s the case,  we’ll have to do this all over again tomorrw.   I’ll try to set the table in the morning.  See  you then….


  1. Matt, many of these intransigent T party members were financed heavily by the US Chamber or Commerce. They will be among the biggest losers if the US defaults. You reap what you sew. Jack

  2. Alas, if it were only so simple! The various Tea Party groups, which are collectively bigger financial contributors than the Chamber of Commerce, are threatening to primary T-Party members who support Boehner, and various lobbying organizations, such as the Club for Growth, have already made it clear that they will oppose T Party members who support Boehner as well. Remember, contrary to the media spin, it’s not corporations and groups like the Chamber of Commerce that dominate the campaign lists – it’s individual donors and single issue groups. So a U.S. default won’t affect T party financing one whit – indeed, it will probably increase campaign contributions. More importantly, almost all of these “no” voters come from districts that voted heavily against Obama, and who won by large margins – often by promising to cut government spending. In short, they view themselves as having been elected to do God’s Work, and woe to anyone that gets in their way!

  3. Professor Dickinson,

    What are you hearing, if anything, about a return to the grand bargain? Is it completely dead? I would be supportive of either version, the 800 billion revenue increase or 1.2 trillion revenue increase with 3 trillion in spending cuts. And I’m a liberal – that’s a massive 3-1(ish) concession for me either way! I understand that to the Tea Party, that extra 400 billion dollars in increased revenue is unacceptable and Boehner has no way to move them. Have you heard anything of Obama being in talks with Reid to go back to the 800 billion dollar revenue version that could pass? Or is that also off the table now?

  4. Will,

    At this point, there simply isn’t time to pass a grand bargain without first agreeing to a short-term extension/raise in the debt ceiling to buy some time to negotiate the details of a broader plan. Even then, the Tea Party/Libertarian wing of the House Republican caucus is highly suspicious of any plan that includes an increase in revenues. To make it palatable to them, I’m guessing Senate Democrats and Obama would have to sign on to a balanced budget deal with teeth – a high hurdle to clear. However, I think Obama sees the “grand bargain” that involves entitlement reform as a possible game changer come 2012 and, let’s face it, the economy is not helping his chances right now. So he has an incentive to work for the grand bargain. Bottom line – it’s unlikely, but I don’t see it as completely dead.

  5. Rumor has it that your scotch never runs out because you buy cases of 1.75 liter bottles of Ol’ Smugglers at the New Hampshire state store. Can you confirm or deny?

  6. Busted! But then, I need not tell you, Big Papi, about the benefit of a little illicit “juicing”!

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