Why You Shouldn’t Believe Those Media Whip Counts On A “Clean” CR

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Vote counts being conducted by CNN and other media outlets regarding the prospects for a “clean” Continuing Resolution in the House of Representatives suggest that the measure would pass if Speaker Boehner brought it to the floor. Every Democratic member of the House apparently says they would vote for the measure, and there are somewhere between 21 and 24 Republicans who say they would do so as well. That gives the bill more than the 217 votes it needs (lower than the normal 218 seat majority due to three vacancies in the House at the moment). As David Weigel explains, though, those numbers don’t necessarily reflect reality:

The “Republican whip count for a clean CR” is the rainbow-maned white unicorn of the shutdown. As I reported last week, some of the Republicans who are regularly included in media whip counts for a “clean CR”—a full funding of government at sequestration spending levels, with no policy riders—say they don’t really support it.

Yesterday, California Rep. Devin Nunes asked the Washington Post to strike his name from one whip count and insisted to the Huffington Post that he’d been misquoted. HuffPost had, naturally,gotten the quote at one of the many reporters-and-recorders scrums that happen on the Hill, and posted the audio.

(…)

What happened, as HuffPost notes, is that the government shut down anyway—and Nunes stopped wanting a clean CR. More to the point, he never went on record supporting any of the post-shutdown Democratic gambits to bring up the CR. The world, to them, has changed over the past week—but they haven’t.

“My position has not changed at all,” insisted Nunes when I followed up. “I’ve been very clear with you guys. For some reason, one of the other reporters decided to make something up today. My preference was a clean CR, before we did the shutdown. I’ve been out on every major television show stating this over and over again. It’s not news. There’s not going to be a vote [on a clean CR]. There’s not the votes for it. If there was a serious negotiation with Democrats going on, maybe, but there’s not. They’re doing gimmicks.”

Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta, who is also often placed on the whip lists, had the same stance as Nunes. “I’m not in favor of a clean CR,” he told me. “I’m past that. There haven’t been several whip counts—it was at 1 a.m. after we’d taken three shots at keeping the government open.

Like Nunes and Barletta, many of the GOP Members of Congress being included on these whip count lists are on the lists because of things they said before the shutdown took place and it’s not at all clear that their position is the same then as it was now. Moreover, as I’ve noted before, most of the people on these lists are people who would be unlikely to take an action that would cause political damage to Speaker Boehner, which is why the effort to get to that magic number of 218 on a Discharge Petition is the ultimate legislative quixotic endeavor. If, in the end, a “clean” CR ends up on the floor it will be there because the GOP Leadership allowed it to get there and, at that point, whether any Republicans vote for it will depend on a wide variety of factors. Making the claim that it’s obvious that such a “clean” CR would pass today outside of the context of how it might get to the floor, then, really doesn’t amount to anything other than speculation that is of little real value.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds 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.

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Missing in your partisan (as per usual) analysis is some basic logic…If the CR doesn’t pass, it’s failure only serves to give the extortionists more leverage.
    It’s obvious that Boehner knows it will pass if brought to the floor.
    Republicans…have the vote. Try not being cowards for a couple minutes out of your spineless whiny ass titty baby lives.

  2. john personna says:

    First, no one’s “counts” hold the onus of putting one’s name on record.

    Right now, in what foolish people may regard as “early days” (but I regard as national emergency) Republicans may talk as if it is no big to be on record supporting shutdown.

    But days are ticking.

    The debt limit is approaching.

    Every day it gets harder to be on record as for shutdown and against the very simple and very fair clean CR.

    Really your article is part of a Republican spin effort. It both plays the game that shutdown is fine now as a new (or at least temporary) normal, that no one need be on the voting record as supporting it, and no one need be on the record supporting the looming default.

  3. SKI says:

    Different Take: If Boehner, not the Dems through a Discharge Petition, actually did bring a clean CR to the floor, they would indeed vote for it and it would pass. Their position appears to be that they won’t cross their leadership but would support a clean CR if leadership lets it come to the floor.

  4. john personna says:

    Shorter: Shame on you Doug, for supporting continued shutdown, without a public vote.

  5. Moosebreath says:

    I’ve quoted Leon Panetta several times recently, but it seems especially apt here:

    “If your plan requires moderate Republicans, you need a new plan.”

  6. Vast Variety says:

    The only way to find out for sure would be to actually but the clean CR up for a vote. If it doesn’t pass then wouldn’t Republicans have a better shot at getting what they want?

  7. john personna says:

    @Vast Variety:

    Doug is carrying water.

    The full vote would end the shutdown, either directly in a first pass, or in a modified CR designed to pick up majority votes.

    The Teas have Boehner cowed. They don’t want the possibility of the clean CR, or for us to learn from the vote what tweaks are needed. They want the Hastert (non)Rule course. They FIRST demand that they be pleased, before anyone else can be polled.

    That is a dangerous ultimatum game. Right now semi-sane Republicans are lying and saying default is fine, because there can be no ransom without and effective threat. The danger is that things go off the rails, and they get the default they were only pretending

  8. Scott says:

    I guess I look at it different. If a clean CR is put up for a vote and it goes down, then the Republicans will own the shutdown. I know that others here have the opposite opinion. I don’t think anyone has the true answer; however, I do know the Democrats (particularly Pelosi and Hoyer) have gamed this out and have counted the votes. We just don’t know what they know. And they probably know more than the various media vote counters.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    Of course the other option…and far preferred on my part… is to not have the vote.
    The we will get to watch Republicans become even more powerless than they are now. Trust me…resorting to extortion is not a show of strength. It’s only a sign of how weak they have become.

  10. john personna says:

    @this:

    Dear idiot downvoter, is there any rational defense for a non-vote?

    I don’t think so. The only defense for Boehner’s “I won’t let the House vote” is tactical, and anti-democratic. It is that Boehner fears a loss, and blocks that.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @john personna:

    Doug is carrying water.

    Not in this case. If he starts talking about how tragic it is that Obama and Boehner aren’t talking…yes, that’s carrying water.

    This is just making an observation. And he is not alone in making it. The Republicans have closed ranks on this. There are no members who will support a clean CR until the leadership does.

  12. john personna says:

    @James Pearce:

    No.

    There are no Republicans who will say, while protected by Boehner’s injunction, that they would vote yes.

    We do not know what they would vote. That is a totally different dynamic.

  13. john personna says:

    @James Pearce:

    Actually it is more than “protected by Boehner’s injunction,” right?

    The injunction enforces compliance.

  14. James Pearce says:

    @john personna:

    We do not know what they would vote.

    Sure we do. They will vote against it.

    These are House Republicans we’re talking about. Their districts demand they do what they’re told.

  15. john personna says:

    @James Pearce:

    Seriously, 10, 12, days into the shutdown with stories of sorrow bubbling to the surface, you think that in a roll call vote every single Republican would vote to continue it, over a clean CR?

    That would take a suicide wish on their part.

  16. James Pearce says:

    @john personna:

    Seriously, 10, 12, days into the shutdown with stories of sorrow bubbling to the surface, you think that in a roll call vote every single Republican would vote to continue it, over a clean CR?

    Definitely.

    I have seen nothing from that side that shows they are ready to cave. Again, House Republicans…they have nothing to fear but the wrath of their constituents. And those people know every roll call vote by heart…

  17. john personna says:
  18. James Pearce says:

    @john personna:

    Polls: Shutdown Could Give Democrats House in 2014

    One can only hope.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    I believe in the end this all comes down to what sort of funding commitments the moderate GOPs (I’m told there are such creatures) can get to support them against a primary challenge. If their war chests gets big enough, they’ll find the courage to do the right thing.

    I doubt Boehner has a plan, but I’d bet Obama does. It may even be a plan to save the Tan Man. I think this is all Kabuki. I think it ends up w/ Pelosi forcing a discharge petition and Boehner and McConnell pretending to fight tooth and nail against it. Boehner keeps his job. McConnell survives his primary.The TP go home and say they fought the good fight, but were overwhelmed by Obama’s socialist Kenyan mojo and a biased MSM. And Obama emerges with pretty much everything he wants. By dumb luck. Again.

  20. Grewgills says:

    Moreover, as I’ve noted before, most of the people on these lists are people who would be unlikely to take an action that would cause political damage to Speaker Boehner, which is why the effort to get to that magic number of 218 on a Discharge Petition is the ultimate legislative quixotic endeavor. If, in the end, a “clean” CR ends up on the floor it will be there because the GOP Leadership allowed it to get there

    There aren’t enough GOP votes because Boehner doesn’t want there to be. If he would put it to a vote, the votes would be there. Supporting Dem measures that would damage his leadership is a considerably higher bar.

  21. David M says:

    Not actually voting protects two groups. First the moderates that Doug quite rightly pointed out may not actually vote for a clean CR, despite the public statements. Boehner is protecting them by allowing them to make reasonable noises, without actually having to do anything. Secondly, this protects the hardliners by not bringing up the CR they oppose, but cannot keep from passing themselves.

    That said, there is a number where even the press will have to recognize that a clean CR could pass and will start pressuring Boehner as well.