Boehner Bill Passes House, Focus Shifts to Senate

BY Quinn Bowman  July 29, 2011 at 6:39 PM EST

Updated 8:30 p.m. ET with Senate vote

House Republicans rallied enough conservatives Friday evening to pass House Speaker John Boehner’s debt-limit bill after days of delay that put into question whether the speaker could secure votes in his caucus.

The final vote was 218 to 210; Boehner needed 216 votes to pass the measure. No Democrats supported the bill.

Senate Democrats say the bill will not pass in that chamber, and are likely to kill the measure immediately but putting it aside or “tabling” the measure. However, it is likely that the Boehner bill will be used as a legislative vehicle to pass a new compromise bill in the Senate that, if passed this weekend, would be sent back to the House. [Updated 8:30 p.m. ET: The Senate voted against the Boehner plan Friday night in a 59-41 vote.]

The House would then have to pass that measure in order for President Obama to sign it. All of this needs to happen before midnight Aug 3., when the United States runs out of the ability to borrow money, according to the Treasury Department.

Boehner challenged Democrats in the Senate and President Obama during his closing remarks before the vote.

“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the President of the United States. I stuck my neck out a mile,” Boehner said. “This House has acted and it is time for the administration and our colleagues across the aisle, put something on the table! Tell us where you are!” Boehner said to loud applause from his party.

After failing to secure the votes Thursday for his bill, Boehner changed it to include a new requirement for raising the debt ceiling in several months: both chambers of Congress must pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. The bill would raise the debt limit by $900 billion before the deadline while cutting about $900 billion in spending over ten years. It would also set up a commission of lawmakers to determine further spending cuts as a condition for raising the debt ceiling in a few months.

Now all the action moves to the Senate side, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will negotiate with Senate Republicans to find a compromise bill that could overcome a filibuster in that chamber — and also stand a chance of passing the House with Democratic votes.

Reid could introduce a compromise measure as early as Friday evening. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., issued a statement immediately following the vote urging Reid to find a bill that can pass that chamber.

Find more coverage of the debt debate on our politics page.

Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call.