After House Speaker John Boehner's bill to raise the debt ceiling passed the House on a 218 to 210 vote, it headed straight for the Senate last night, where, as promised, it was quickly killed by a 59-41 Senate roll call, Politico reports.
Now it's Reid's moment, in the words of Talking Points Memo, to try "for the endgame" with his own measure. (The closer we get to August 2nd, the more chess metaphors emerge). Senate rules require a full day in between Reid introducing his measure Friday night and a vote to cut off debate, so there must be a key vote early Sunday, as The Washington Post reports. The Senate and the House are in recess until 1pm today, and a 1 am cloture vote has been scheduled on Sunday morning in the Senate over Reid's plan -- and it will be "climactic and dramatic."
Then this is what must happen next: If the Reid's bill makes it through that loop, its final passage would require a simple majority of senators to send the bill to the House. But, without the House's agreement -- the bill would require an additional 30 hours of debate for its final vote. So that means, according to the mathematicians at The Post, that Monday morning at 7:30 AM is the earliest a final vote could happen. "Then, the measure would return to the House on Monday, where it would face a final critical vote."
Trouble is, though, that even if the Senate manages to pull together such a compromise, it's not at all clear what the strategy will be in the House. As the Post reports, "Exhausted Republican House members said they had given little thought to what further compromises they might make."
Reid's bill, according to Talking Points Memo, is still a work in progress. As of their report last night:
Reid hopes to entice Republicans to support his plan in two ways. First, with slightly deeper cuts. Second, by adopting an idea, first proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, that would delegate the authority to raise the debt limit to President Obama -- and give Congress the prerogative to attempt to block Obama from taking that action.
It does not include any penalties or triggers to force Congress to enact entitlement and tax reforms in the coming months.
But, according to the New York Times, the Congressional Budget Office found that the overall impact on the deficit was about the same as with his original bill: savings of $2.2 trillion over 10 years. Moreover, the Times reports that "In an effort to send a message, House Republicans plan to allow a symbolic vote Saturday on Mr. Reid’s plan to show that it cannot clear the House." And Politico writes: "Reid’s chances of getting to 60 votes Saturday night appear slim, and the whole scenario may be a device to put pressure on Republicans by making them appear obstructive and filibustering."
As for the recently tabled House bill, according to Politico, this is not necessarily the end of its road:
[T]he House bill could yet be resurrected and Republicans predicted it could still be amended as part of a final compromise negotiated by all sides over the weekend.