As Speaker Boehner and the Republican House leadership struggle this morning to lock down the votes needed to pass the Republican debt limit bill, there were a couple of other developments.
First, the President gave a brief statement this morning that essentially reiterated his belief in the necessity of a bipartisan compromise, and he once again urged people to write their congressman, noting that when he last made this pitch, the public response was overwhelming. Again, however, it’s not clear to me that the people who are writing in are doing so in favor of bipartisan compromise; my guess is that the communications are coming mostly from issue activists on both sides of the political divide, telling their representatives to hold tight against the forces of evil.
What was more interesting is what Obama did not say: once again, he did not offer his own plan, nor did he promise a veto threat of the existing plans, despite previously releasing a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) noting that his adviser would recommend a veto. As Peter Baumann reminds me, this is typical language when preparing a veto threat. But there are exceptions – Obama was much more explicit in promising to veto the Republican Cut, Cap and Balance bill. I think it’s significant that he has not yet gone that far with the Republican bill. Of course, his Press Secretary is arguing that the veto issue is moot, since the Republican bill will never pass the Senate.
As if lawmakers needed any more incentive to act to prevent a default, the second quarter economic report was not good, with growth the slowest since the recession “officially” ended. This is not good news for Obama’s reelection prospects.
Finally, Tom Harkin joins the growing line of Democrats arguing that Obama would be justified in invoking the 14th amendment to end the debt impasse.
It is fascinating, and not totally unexpected, to hear Democrats who bitterly complained about George W. Bush asserting strong executive power to act in a national emergency now reversing field and urging Obama to emulate Bush, while Republicans have suddenly become the defenders of the Constitution. It all about whose ox is gored.
At this point, depending on the whip count, Boehner is planning to bring the Republican bill to a vote today. Meanwhile, the House Rules committee has issued a rule that will allow the House to vote on the Reid bill as well. In the Senate, Reid has acknowledged that they can’t wait for the House to act to start deliberations, so they will begin debate today as well.
It is make or break time. More later today as developments come in.