GOP Bucks Boehner's Plan That Obama Threatens to Veto

Democrats are hoping GOP disunity will help them pass their own debt ceiling plan

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is pushing Republicans to "unite behind" Speaker John Boehner and his plan to raise the debt limit, Roll Call's John Stanton reports. Cantor's lobbying shows how desperate debt negotiations have become--only weeks ago, Cantor (pictured) was fairly obviously campaigning for Boehner's job and undermining the speaker's emerging deal with President Obama, the now-likely-dead "grand bargain." Sure, Cantor told his colleagues, "the debt limit vote sucks," but they need to "stop grumbling and whining" so they can "rally behind the speaker and call the president's bluff," a meeting attendee told Stanton.

So far, it doesn't appear Cantor's efforts are working. Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, said, "I am confident as of this morning that there were not 218 Republicans in support of this plan," The Washington Post's Felicia Sonmez reports. (No hard feelings though: Jordan insists that he and fellow conservatives "appreciate the speaker's hard work.") Though she's out on the campaign trail, Rep. Michele Bachmann wants everyone to know she does not back Boehner's plan--her staffers told the liberal site Think Progress, "the congresswoman is standing firm opposing the Boehner plan."
The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman tweets that first the Republican Study Committee, then an arm of the Heritage Foundation, and now the Club for Growth are all opposing Boehner's plan: "This is a whip's nightmare -- or a real [break] for compromise." Could conservatives' abandonment of Boehner mean there's a chance to compromise with Democrats? Probably not. The New York TimesJada F. Smith reports that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer says when it's time to vote Wednesday, Boehner's plan will get "very few" Democratic votes, if any. And the White House's Office of Management and Budget released a memo saying if the plan, "is presented to the President, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill."
Sen. Kent Conrad, of the declared-dead-then-revived-now-probably-dead-again Gang of Six plan, says the "Boehner plan probably has to fail in the House or Senate before debt limit end game becomes clear," Brian Beutler reports. That's one of two scenarios Democrats are gaming out with the hopes of exploiting the disunity in the Republican ranks, The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reports. Sargent explains:
If the Boehner plan goes down in the House, that would represent a serious blow to Boehner’s leadership, weakening his hand in negotiations. ...
At that point, the Senate would then pass Harry Reid’s proposal, and then kick it over to the House, which would increase pressure on Boehner to try to get it passed, since he was unable to pass his own plan.
And if Boehner does manage to pass his proposal?
[Democrats] would use the 'shell' of the Boehner bill as a vehicle to pass Harry Reid's proposal, because for various procedural reasons House messages get expedited consideration. Senate Dems would vote to 'amend' Boehner's bill by replacing it completely with Reid’s proposal--which the Senate could then pass more quickly than they otherwise could.
After that, Reid’s proposal--having passed the Senate--would then get kicked back to the House. Having proved that Boehner’s plan can’t pass the Senate, Democrats would in effect be giving House Republicans a choice: Either pass the Reid proposal, or take the blame for default and the economic calamity that ensues.
Postscript: By the way, this will never end: Hoyer tells Beutler we can all look forward to another government shutdown debate in just a couple months:
"This is not analogous to '95. This was a dispute--and very frankly I think we're going to be back at that dispute come October 1 of this year. They passed appropriation bills that won't pass the Senate. They know that. This is a crowd that is committed to simply its political, ideological agenda. Not to making law."
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