John Boehner, foiled again.
Now, it’s the Senate’s turn to act. And while Mitch McConnell is, astonishingly, refusing to negotiate with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, saying he wants the Boehner treatment from the president (mad that you got left out of that golf game, Mitch?) Reid is pressing ahead with his bill, and looking to incorporate McConnell’s failsafe plan in the process. If Reid can hold the 59 Senators who voted against the Boehner bill — and there’s no guarantee that he can — he only needs one more vote to override a certain McConnell-inspired fillibuster.
UPDATE: From the New York Times breaking news in the in-box:
Lacking Votes, House Won’t Vote on Boehner Debt Plan Tonight
Republican leaders in the House have announced that there will be no vote on the debt ceiling bill Thursday night, an indication that House Speaker John A. Boehner remains short of the votes necessary to pass his legislation.
Mr. Boehner and his top lieutenants called it a night after more than five hours of furious arm-twisting of freshman Republicans, many of whom emerged from the closed-door sessions appearing to be firmer in their opposition.
There was little indication of what else had transpired during an evening that was supposed to have been a victory for Mr. Boehner as he passed a second debt-limit bill over to the Democratic Senate.
Instead, the evening highlighted the tensions within his conference and the sway that the Tea Party backed members hold within Mr. Boehner’s party.
There was no indication of whether a vote might still come on Friday.
So to review: John Boehner, who as speaker has shepherded a whopping 12 bills through the House of Representatives, resulting in about as much new law as Florida has had snow this year, cannot get 216 of his 242 members to vote for … well, anything. Really?
The question on a lot of people’s minds tonight has to be whether Eric Cantor helped whip that vote, or helped whip freshmen into an unrealistic frenzy of power-man unrealism. And whether House Whip Kevin McCarthy can count. Maybe Boehner should have handed out tobacco checks…
This is getting sloppy. the sad thing is, the vote didn’t even matter, since Boehner’s short-term extension bill is DOA in the Senate. But the fact that Boehner can’t even pass a demonstration vote says his speakership is as weak as you probably think it is. Could a leadership challenge, led by the talk radio listeners currently in charge of the House, be far behind?
surveys the wreckage.
And Luke Russert on MSNBC makes a good point: that people on the Hill are now kicking themselves for getting rid of earmarks, since now the leadership literally has nothing to offer recalcitrant members. Again… tobacco checks.
The House of Representatives in the 112th Congress is already on pace to be the most unproductive in generations, with just 12 bills having passed so far, versus the hundreds Nancy Pelosi had gotten through at this point in her speakership. Now, Boehner, who clearly is unable to control his caucus, particularly the 83 ineducable tea party freshmen, faces the ultimate test: can he corral the votes to raise the debt ceiling? Boehner could theoretically do it with all 193 Democrats plus 24 Republicans (something that’s highly unlikely because Boehner couldn’t live politically with an outcome that has him going hat in hand to Nancy Pelosi.) He could also do it with 217 Republicans, but that means he can only afford to lose 24.
Either way, this will be a test of Boehner’s leadership — and over a point that’s ultimately moot. His bill cannot pass the Senate, and President Obama won’t sign it, because it sets up yet another showdown over the debt ceiling six months from now.