Decision to Delay Debt Vote Produces Only Losers
House Speaker John Boehner arrives at the Capitol on Friday morning. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
Thursday night’s decision by Republican leaders to scrap a vote to raise the debt ceiling dealt House Speaker John Boehner a stunning — albeit, perhaps, temporary — loss, despite the fact that the plan’s prospects had been uncertain given the strident opposition among GOP conservatives and a united wall of Democratic dissent.
While the outcome may have been an initial defeat for Rep. Boehner, it’s hard to imagine the result produced any winners with the country now standing on the precipice of a potential default on its financial obligations in just four days.
Republican leaders hoped to bring the Boehner plan back to the floor for a vote Friday, but only if they have the 217 members in hand to deliver a victory. The math is likely to get sorted out at 10 a.m. ET Friday, when all 240 House Republicans meet at the Capitol for a closed-door conference session.
Reports indicate that Speaker Boehner and his leadership team engaged in a good amount of arm-twisting Thursday night to try to pick up votes.
“Outside the House chamber, Boehner summoned members of the holdout GOP South Carolina delegation to his second-floor office just off the Capitol Rotunda. But he appeared to make little headway and, within minutes, freshman Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan left the meeting, saying they were heading to a nearby chapel to pray for their leaders.
“Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) later joined them, and the trio, stalwart conservatives who have steadfastly opposed efforts to grant the Treasury additional borrowing authority, told reporters that Boehner’s pitch had not been persuasive.”
POLITICO’s crew of Jonathan Allen, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan examine the stakes heading into Friday:
“On the line: The outcome of a debt-limit increase that has consumed Washington and New York for months, Boehner’s standing in the Republican Conference, and the balance of power between the House GOP and the Democrats who control the White House and the Senate.
“Republican leaders hoped to put the bill back on the floor Friday, either in its current form or in a slightly altered state, and some in the GOP worried that Thursday night’s failure to move the bill could disrupt markets.”
The NewsHour’s Quinn Bowman, meanwhile, outlines what the delay in the House means for the process going forward:
“The fate of the House version of the Boehner debt-limit increase is critical for determining the shape of any long-term compromise. A failed vote on the Boehner plan could give Republicans a weaker hand in final negotiations as Senate Democrats prepare their own debt proposal.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had already pronounced Rep. Boehner’s plan “dead on arrival,” objecting to the measure’s two-stage strategy for lifting the country’s borrowing limit. The White House has also threatened to veto the legislation.
The proposal would cut the deficit by $917 billion over the next decade and raise the debt ceiling by $900 billion, enough to get through the end of this year. Congress would then have to approve a $1.6 trillion debt limit increase in about six months to be accompanied by spending reductions that match or exceed that amount.
The plan could undergo revisions in an effort to draw additional Republican support, but lawmakers are running out of time to make fixes. Such changes are only likely to make it more difficult to gain the backing of Democrats who still control the other half of Congress and the presidency.
At 10:50 a.m. Friday, President Obama is expected to make statement on the status of the debt ceiling. We’ll carry that live here.
With scant evidence that a deal is in sight and just four days to figure out a way forward, lawmakers should brace themselves for a long, working weekend in Washington.
One of the more surprising developments of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s candidacy thus far is her ability to navigate what Mark Halperin and John Harris labeled the “freak show” that is at the heart of presidential campaigning in the modern media environment.
In the Q&A portion of her National Press Club event on Thursday, the congresswoman from Minnesota acknowledged with a smile what she called “the fun questions,” when she was asked about her husband’s clinic, “reparative therapy” and her home loans. She certainly dodged more than she answered, but in so doing she displayed a degree of discipline that some of her pre-candidacy public appearances belied.
Rep. Bachmann has perhaps a less clear path to the nomination than several of her rivals, but nobody should underestimate how seriously she’s taking this campaign and how doggedly she seems to be training for the rigors of the trail.
The NewsHour’s James Melia was at the Press Club event and has more here:
“When asked whether she believes ‘reparative therapy’ of homosexuals, a controversial psychological treatment her husband Dr. Marcus Bachmann is accused of using in his clinics, is effective, the congresswoman answered with a statement touting the longevity of her marriage and the pride she has for her husband, stating, ‘I am running for the presidency. My husband is not.’”
“The next question she fielded asked about the $417,000 home loan from Fannie Mae that Bachmann and her husband received in 2008, just weeks before she called for the dismantling of the agency in Congress. She joked, ‘Now, unlike all of you, who I’m sure pay cash for your homes, there are people out there like myself who actually have to go out there to a bank and get a mortgage,’ before changing the topic away from her own personal loan and focusing the conversation on the need for a smaller government. ‘Fannie and Freddie were at the epicenter of the financial meltdown. What’s important is that we dismantle several of these federal programs that everyone agrees are clearly out of control.’”
CHRISTIE RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
GOP star and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was released from the hospital Thursday after experiencing shortness of breath related to his asthma.
After a battery of tests, doctors ruled out a cardiac event.
The Newark Star Ledger statehouse team has the details:
“Though Christie himself acknowledged concern about being overweight, he said he didn’t think that affected today’s incident. However, he reiterated what he has said in public — that he works out with a trainer in an effort to slim down.
“‘I think the weight exacerbates everything,’ he said. ‘The lighter I am, the healthier I’ll be. It’s one of the major struggles of my life. I’m working on it.’”
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