The Morning After: What Happens if Boehner's Not in Control

The only bill that can pass the House will be so conservative it'll scare off some Republican senators

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What is John Boehner going to do? House Republicans have approved a rule giving the speaker "maximum flexibility" to make tweaks to his debt ceiling plan at any moment between now and Tuesday, August 2--the Treasury Department deadline for when it will run out of money--after it became obvious that his plan didn't have enough votes to pass Thursday night. But his inability to collect enough votes Thursday night to pass the plan he had proposed have made many question his control of the House Majority.

House Republicans met for the fifth time this week on Friday morning, Roll Call's John Stanton and Jessica Brady report, as leaders "scramble" to meet Tea Partiers' demands. Yet their options are limited. When Boehner took over as speaker, he complied with another Tea Party demand: banning earmarks. And without the ability to dole out millions of dollars for pet projects in legislators' districts, it's much harder to win over reluctant lawmakers. Last night, Boehner tried using pizza instead. It left him down five to 12 votes.
The Associated Press' Charles Babington reports that "House Republicans will be under tremendous pressure to pass something, even if they have to make it so appealing to their right wing that the nation's independents and centrists will laugh it off." Such as? Conservatives demand "a requirement that a balanced-budget amendment pass both the House and the Senate before the next debt-ceiling increase," Politico's Mike Allen reports. And here's the laugh: "Ya can't make it up! There aren't the votes in the House, let alone the Senate." Allen notes that even in Boehner's ranks there are doubts he can pass his plan Friday.
Who can save us now with just a few days till Default Armageddon? Focus turns to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell has been very outspoken in saying he thinks Republicans will take a big hit politically if the country defaults, The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake report. But he has preferred to let the House madness run its course before taking action in the Senate. He and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have to come up with a compromise plan, whether Boehner can pass a bill Friday or not. It's thought that any bill that gets first passes the House will be so conservative that several Republican senators will join the 53 Democrats and independents who have already pledged not to vote for it.
Babington writes that if Boehner passes his plan, McConnell "could argue that the House finally passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling, while the Senate has done nothing but kill that bill." He adds: "If Tuesday's deadline passes with no resolution, Republicans say, voters will blame Democrats. Under this thinking, the Senate would pass a measure similar to the House bill, perhaps with minor changes to save face and give political cover to Democrats who vote for it." But many Senate Democrats think they're the ones with the polls on their side.
Allen explains their thinking: 
"Reid will have the upper hand to push for a late weekend vote on the Senate plan as the last, best option to avert default. Since it will be the last train leaving the station, Senate Republicans will feel pressure to go along with it, perhaps after securing a couple tweaks. Boehner, in turn, will have no choice but to rely on House Democrats to help approve the bipartisan Senate plan." 
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.