Things look notably better for John Boehner's debt plan, at least in the short term, now that the Republican House speaker has tied it to a balanced-budget amendment.
The Club for Growth, an influential fiscal-conservative group that has urged House Republicans to vote against Boehner's plan, is now on board. The group's top lobbyist, Andy Roth, sent out the following email Friday afternoon:
From: Andy Roth
Sent: Friday, July 29, 2011 1:41 PM
To: Barney Keller
Subject: Key Vote Alert - Boehner Plan
KEY VOTE ALERT - The Boehner Plan
Andrew Roth - VP of Government Affairs
Club for Growth
DATE: July 29, 2011
After reviewing the newly amended language in the Budget Control Act of 2011, the Club for Growth has withdrawn its key vote against the new Boehner Plan.
Our Congressional Scorecard for the 112th Congress provides a comprehensive rating of how well or how poorly each member of Congress supports pro-growth, free-market policies and will be distributed to our members and to the public.
If you have any questions, please let me know.
Likewise Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a longtime deficit hawk who was had remained undecided on Boehner's plan Thursday night, tweeted his support for the altered bill after Boehner told Republicans about the change.
Earlier Friday, as Boehner sought to win support from recalcitrant conservatives in his GOP ranks, he changed his bill to appeal to them. Boehner's plan has been to raise the debt limit in two steps. In the latest version of the plan, Congress would have to pass a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution for the second debt-limit hike to occur. In that regard, Boehner's new bill is similar to the "Cut, Cap and Balance" plan already passed by the House and voted down by the Senate -- which would have required congressional passage of a balanced-budget amendment before the debt ceiling went up at all.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, meanwhile, has signaled that Boehner's plan will not pass the Senate. Reid and Boehner had offered plans that were roughly similar, though Reid's would raise the debt ceiling immediately until 2013, while Boehner's plan would require another vote before the 2012 elections.
In altering his plan, Boehner has likely saved himself from any challenges to his speakership and made the GOP conference happy, though he also seems to have lessened the likelihood that his plan will make it to Obama's desk.