Is The Boehner Plan DOA?
Flanked by conservative colleagues, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told reporters he could not back the Boehner proposal and said it doesn’t have the votes to pass in the Republican-controlled House. In a two-step plan, Boehner is pressing for a vote on Wednesday and a second vote Thursday on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
“We think there are real problems with this plan,” said Jordan, who heads the Republican Study Group. He argued that the spending cuts are insufficient and expressed opposition to likely tax increases.
Added Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla.: “If I had to vote right now, my vote would be no.”
Meanwhile, in what some will characterize as a sudden turn of character, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is telling his fellow Republicans to suck it up and do what needs to be done:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) delivered a blunt message to the Republican Conference Tuesday morning: Quit the “grumbling” and “whining” and come together to rally behind Speaker John Boehner to pass his debt ceiling plan.
Cantor’s heavy rhetoric came out in a closed session at the Capitol Hill Club as the GOP majority tried to whip up support for Boehner’s latest deficit package. Cantor summed up what he knew many Republicans were thinking as they head into another critical vote.
“The debt limit vote sucks,” he said, according to an attendee of the closed meeting. But Republicans have three options, Cantor said: risk default, pass Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) plan — which he thinks gives President Barack Obama a blank check — or “call the president’s bluff” by passing the Boehner plan, which not only cuts deeply into domestic spending but calls for a bipartisan commission to find more savings.
Cantor also announced that the House will hold a vote on a balanced budget amendment Thursday, a nod to vocal conservatives in the conference.
House Republican leaders will spend Tuesday and Wednesday cobbling together votes to pass Boehner’s plan to hike the debt ceiling by $1 trillion and cut federal spending by a greater amount. Treasury says that the nation will run out of the ability to borrow money on Aug. 2.
Boehner told reporters after the closed meeting that his proposal, which he says is the product of bipartisan negotiations, “is enough” to quell market concerns about the debt ceiling.
This last comment of Boehner’s is confusing because there’s no evidence at all that the plan he released yesterday was touched by any Democratic hands before it was released. The best I can figure is that, because the structure of the plan resembles the now long-forgotten McConnell-Reid plan, he considers it to be bipartisan even though it really isn’t In any event, it’s hard to consider the bill bipartisan when it’s fairly clear that it will have fairly little support from House Democrats in its present form, and the White House is now saying that it will veto the bill (PDF) if it somehow makes it to the Oval Office (a threat I doubt anyone really believes). So no, this isn’t a bipartisan plan, but it’s the only one the House is looking at right now and, so far, the prospects don’t look very good.
It’s hard to believe that Cantor and Boehner will bring the bill up for a vote if they don’t think it’s going to pass, but stranger things have happened. If it doesn’t pass, though, then I’m not sure where that leaves things. There’s very little time left for negotiation, and very little sign that anyone wants to negotiate. This isn’t looking good.