Can Boehner’s Plan Pass The House? Don’t Be So Sure

In his speech last night, House Speaker John Boehner presented the picture of a House GOP united by the plan he presented yesterday, but the reality appears to be far different. Almost immediately after the plan came out, there were already Members of Congress coming out against it:

The chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee wasted little time announcing his opposition to the House GOP leadership’s two-step plan to raise the debt ceiling.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who stood — visibly uncomfortable — next to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) during Monday’s announcement of the plan, released a statement saying he would vote “no” on the measure.

“While I thank the Speaker for fighting for Republican principles, I cannot support the plan that was presented to House Republicans this afternoon,” Jordan said.

Conservative lawmakers Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) also came out against Boehner’s plan.

Jordan argued that his leadership team should stand behind a measure that the House approved on a party-line vote last week — the “cut, cap and balance” bill that failed in the Senate.

“The credit rating agencies have been clear that no matter what happens with the debt limit, the U.S. will lose its AAA credit rating unless we produce a credible plan to reduce the debt by trillions of dollars. Cut, Cap, and Balance is the only plan on the table that meets this standard. Only a Balanced Budget Amendment will actually solve our debt problems,” Jordan stated.

Over on the Senate side, Tea Party slatwart Jim DeMint rejected both the Reid and Boehner plans:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is dismissing new debt plans put forward by both Democrats and Republicans, saying neither “take our debt crisis seriously.”

The Tea Party favorite maintained Monday that both plans to raise the debt limit while tackling the deficit are insufficient, and that he will actively oppose them, as well as invite a downgrade to the nation’s credit rating.

The rating agencies have insisted that the government craft a credible plan to rein in the deficit, lest its top AAA credit rating be knocked down.

“Instead of serious reforms, both punt the hard decisions,” DeMint said in a statement. “By competing with Democrats to create a better political debt deal, instead of a debt solution, Republicans are playing a lose-lose game. This is bad policy and bad politics.”

Additionally, at least one coalition of Tea Party activists has rejected the plan:

A coalition of Tea Party chapters and conservative lawmakers on Monday rejected the debt proposal put forward by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), despite his efforts to sweeten the deal with provisions favored by his conservative base.

The Cut, Cap, Balance Coalition, which boasts hundreds of Tea Party groups and more than 100 GOP lawmakers in its membership, is citing two provisions in Boehner’s proposal that amount to deal-breakers: its call for creating a Congressional Commission and its inclusion of a balanced budget amendment that, according to the group, is only for show.

“A symbolic vote on a balanced budget amendment at some later time minimizes its importance, as it will not be tied to an increase in the debt ceiling,” reads a statement from the coalition. “A BBA that allows a tax increase with anything less than a 2/3 supermajority is not a serious measure.”

Conservatives were also rubbed the wrong way by Boehner’s inclusion of a “Super Congress” in his plan. The new commission, composed of 12 members from both parties and both chambers, would be granted extraordinary new powers to fast-track legislation through both chambers without it being amended. The commission would be tasked with finding a minimum amount of spending cuts before Congress could proceed to a second increase in the debt ceiling next year.

“History has shown that such commissions, while well-intentioned, make it easier to raise taxes than to institute enduring budget reforms,” reads the coalition’s statement.

With this kind of opposition shaping up, it’s entirely conceivable that at least 25 House GOPers could vote no on Boehner’s plan. Meaning that, without Democratic support that seems unlikely, it would not get the majority required to pass. How likely is that? It’s hard to tell, but the House GOP causes, especially its Tea Party wing, seems to be becoming more radicalized the closer we get to the debt ceiling deadline. Unless Boehner keeps his caucus unified despite the voices urging them to oppose the plan, its entirely possible he’ll roll the dice on a  roll call vote and lose. In which case all bets are off.


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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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Unless Boehner keeps his caucus unified despite the voices urging them to oppose the plan,

    Boehner is the weakest Speaker in my memory (going back to mid 70’s. Is that accurate?

  2. Boyd says:

    If a Republican Congressman is going to vote against the Speaker’s bill because of perceived deficiencies in that plan, then it’s the height of hypocrisy and irresponsibility not to submit a bill of their own. If they’re not competent to draft such a bill, then that speaks volumes on its own.

    Put up or shut up, GOP naysayers. Vote for the bill or draft your own bill.

  3. @Boyd: It seems that at least some of those in opposition to Boehner’s plan still think that they can get Cut, Cap, and Balance. Given that CC and B failed the Senate and faces a veto threat, such a position is ridiculous.

    It is an utter denial of the way the legislative process (and, indeed, governing) works. A minority of the House GOP caucus is acting like they have a comfortable majority control of the entire US government rather than being a faction of the party that control only one piece of the machine.

  4. Boyd says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I understand using leverage, as well as using your opponents’ weaknesses against them, and I’m all in favor of that. I’m less extreme than you and Doug in favoring a clean, raise-the-debt-limit bill (I’m not trying to characterize your positions as anything more than “more extreme than mine” here).

    But opposition has to be grounded in some sort of reality. Hanging their hat on a bill that has already failed to pass the Senate is lunacy. They’re in a sweet spot to exact tremendous concessions that haven’t been available before, and letting pursuit of the perfect prevent achievement of the good leads me to believe they’ve risen beyond their level of incompetence.

    I’ve resisted calls to get things settled before now because there’s been the possibility of getting more out of the Democrats. But now’s the time to make a move. The GOP can make themselves heroes out of a successful resolution now. We can only hope that DeMint and his ilk don’t get so power-drunk that they blow all that they, along with their more moderate GOP brethren, have achieved so far.

  5. @Boyd: It is true that my preference would be (in fantasyland) a clean bill that also eliminated the debt ceiling altogether. I know I am not going to get that, and I fully understand taking advantage of a deadline to produce a compromise.

    Now, I have thought from the beginning that playing chicken with the debt ceiling was a dangerous game and did not like it, but again, I can understand the strategy.

    However, my concern has been that too many people in the GOP, especially in the House, did not take seriously the consequences of not raising the limit.

    Since there are deals on the table that would both cut spending and not raise taxes, the notion that we cannot come to an agreement is alarming and raises serious questions about the judgment of some of the members of the Congress, in the House GOP caucus in particular.

  6. Janis Gore says:

    “Slatwart” Jim DeMint? I sort of like that – right Carrollesque.

  7. Gustopher says:

    Boehner’s not getting out of this with the Speakership. The Tea Party wants one of their own as speaker, and they aren’t going to go along with any compromise drafted by this RINO.

    The question is what the less-immoderate Republican congress critters do, not what the Tea Party Republicans (Teapublicans?) do. The only deal that works is one that brings in some Democrats.

  8. Moosebreath says:

    With The Club for Growth urging Boehner’s plan be defeated, I’d say it stands no chance.