Can the Boehner Plan Pass?
Update, 3 p.m. ET | According to a just-released statement,
“The Administration strongly opposes House passage of the amendment in the nature of a substitute to S. 627. If S. 627 is presented to the President, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.”
Original post: | The complex and chaotic negotiations over the debt limit came into slightly sharper focus Tuesday, as both sides began to focus on the details and feasibility of House Speaker John Boehner’s two-step deficit reduction proposal.
The plan, which would cut $1.2 trillion immediately while lifting the debt ceiling by $1 trillion, would then require a 12-member bipartisan committee to come up with some $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction in exchange for another increase in the debt ceiling next year.
While Senate Democrats and President Obama reject the two-step approach, the House Republican team is pushing it as the best way forward to solve the debt ceiling crisis — with just seven days left until the deadline.
A vote on the Boehner plan in the House could come as early as Wednesday, so the critical question is whether it has the 217 votes (usually 218 are necessary, but vacancies in the House make the minimum 217) necessary to pass. The math appears complicated for Boehner, because of the possibility that enough conservative House Republicans won’t support the plan because the cuts do not go far enough. Republicans currently hold 240 House seats, which means Speaker Boehner can only allow for 23 defections from his party before needing Democratic votes to pass the bill.
The failure of the Boehner plan in the House would leave the plan introduced in the Senate by Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., as possibly the only alternative. That plan would cut $2.7 trillion over ten years without cutting entitlements or raising taxes. It would raise the debt ceiling after the 2012 elections. However, it remains uncertain whether or not the Reid plan can garner the 60-vote support in the Senate required to avert a filibuster.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, came out against the Boehner plan Monday and reiterated his opposition Tuesday at a press conference.
“I am confident as of this morning that there were not 218 Republicans in support of the plan,” Jordan said.
Jordan said that the Republican “cut, cap and balance” plan, which would make large cuts in spending and require a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution be passed in both chambers of Congress before the debt ceiling can be raised, is the plan he wants to see passed.
The “cut, cap and balance” bill passed the House with 234 votes, including five Democrats.
“It hasn’t passed one house of the Congress yet,” Jordan said of the Boehner plan. “There’s another plan that has. How is that further down the road to becoming law than what we passed last week?” Jordan asked.
According to a House GOP leadership aide, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told House Republicans that voting to raise the debt limit “sucks” but that they should stop whining and grumbling and stick together and pass the Boehner plan.
It is not known exactly how many House conservatives oppose the Boehner plan. The Hill newspaper reported that at least three other Republicans have said they will vote against the plan or considering doing so. RSC member Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., said he would not grant his support yet and was communicating concerns over the bill to the House leadership.
Republicans would likely need to pass the Boehner plan by themselves. An angry Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., decried Republicans for “walking out on America” by refusing to compromise with Democrats on a debt-ceiling increase.
He said he can not support a short-term (in other words, the two-step approach) because it would roil the financial markets. He prefers the Reid plan and predicted that almost all of the Democrats in his caucus would vote for the Reid plan.
Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call.