Boehner Plan Reportedly Doesn’t Have Enough Votes To Pass Yet

As I write this, the House is beginning an afternoon of debate on the plan proposed by John Boehner to reduce spending and raise the debt ceiling. A vote is expected to take place sometime around 5:30pm to 6:00pm Eastern time today. However, it doesn’t look like the plan has the 217 votes needed to pass yet:

As the House raced toward a vote to raise the debt ceiling, Speaker John Boehner told lawmakers Thursday that Republicans don’t yet have the votes to pass the package, but predicted his leadership team would get the legislation across the finish line this evening.

“We do not have the votes yet,” Boehner told a closed meeting of House Republicans Thursday morning in the Capitol, according to sources in the room. “But today is the day. We’re going to get it passed.”

And they’re on their way.

Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who met with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) Wednesday, told lawmakers the bill didn’t have as much savings as he would like, but he will vote for the bill.

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), a bulky former Notre Dame football player, gave a rousing football-themed speech and said he would vote for the bill. He told colleagues they needed to do three things: Put on your helmet, put in your mouth piece and tighten your chinstrap. He gave out signs with the Notre Dame football saying, “Play like a champion today.”

“Let’s kick the s—- out of them,” Kelly said in the meeting, according to several sources.

GOP leaders also are showing more public confidence. In an interview with POLITICO Thursday, Cantor predicted a “strong vote in the House” and said Senate Majority Leader Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hasn’t passed a bill yet.

“After today, Harry Reid is going to have two bills,” Cantor said. “He’s going to have the bill that we moved out, which is our optimum Cut, Cap and Balance, and now he’ll have another bill, which is a compromise bill. There are things in it that he likes and the ball will be in his court at that point.”

No, not really. Cut, Cap, and Balance is dead and it’s not coming back. The only proposals that matter at this point are Boehner’s Plan and Reid’s Plan. As Steven Taylor noted this morning, those two plans aren’t all that dissimilar. In fact, outside of the manner in which spending is cut (Reid relies more on defense cuts than Boehner), the only significant difference between Reid and Boehner’s plans is the fact that Reid’s plan raises the debt ceiling all at once while Boehner’s plan has a convoluted two-step process that would require Congress to revisit this issue again in six months or less. Given that, it wouldn’t be all that hard for both sides to sit down and create a hybrid proposal that combines elements from both plans. That seems to me to be the only way out of this at this point, but it requires that the House vote on something first and send it to the Senate.

So, we go forward today. Despite the concerns noted above, I get the feeling that Boehner’s plan will end up passing, although its likely to be by a slim margin with no Democratic support. If that doesn’t happen and Boehner’s plan fails, then the Tea Party caucus will have succeeded in making themselves irrelevant to the resolution of this crisis.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. hey norm says:

    “…the Tea Party caucus will have succeeded in making themselves irrelevant to the resolution of this crisis…”

    Appropriate I suppose since their only relevance has been in preventing the resolution of the “crisis” they created.

  2. John Peabody says:

    A nit-pick: I’m reading a report that there are two current vacancies in the house and two will be absent (Gifford, and another one with illness). So, only 431 will be voting and 216 votes will be a majority.

  3. Pug says:

    @John Peabody:

    Those vacancies don’t include Giffords, I don’t think. There are two open seats, one in New York (remember Anthony Weiner?) and one in Nevada. There are special elections coming up for both seats pretty soon.