Political Animal


July 28, 2011 10:00 PM Boehner still scrambling

By Steve Benen

Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told his caucus to get their “asses in line.” Tonight, Boehner is telling some in his caucus to get the asses in a line to tell him how he can make them happy.

As we approach 10 p.m., the latest rumor is that Boehner is prepared to send his bill back to committee to make it more right-wing.

For hours, Boehner has been engaged in intense one-on-one meetings with Republicans in an effort to win today’s fight. Still lacking the votes at 9 p.m., Republicans were considering sending their bill back to the Rules Committee for minor tweaks to win more votes.

What kind of “tweaks”? Apparently, several far-right House Republicans believe Boehner’s plan is too generous when it comes to Pell Grants. Helping low-income students go to college is, as they see it, “welfare,” and therefore makes his bill unacceptable.

Thanks again, midterm voters. Great job.

If the bill goes back to committee, it’s likely to delay a House vote until Friday. (Take your time, guys. It’s not like there’s a looming deadline that would cause an economic disaster next week.)

Also, don’t forget, all of this is to simply get the Boehner plan through the House, so it can be promptly killed by the Senate. The Speaker knows his budget proposal will meet an unkind fate, but for the sake of his ego and his political standing, Boehner wants to make sure it’s the Senate that does the deed, not his own caucus.

No one can say with any confidence what, if anything, will happen tonight, so I’m calling it a day. Consider this an overnight open thread for those who have the patience to keep watching this fiasco unfold.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Joe Bauers on July 28, 2011 10:14 PM:

    "Thanks again, midterm voters. Great job."

    We truly get the government the worst among us deserve.

  • dr. bloor on July 28, 2011 10:17 PM:

    Why, exactly, isn't Boehner promising the Teahadists the moon for free and back child support money to get to 217? The bill is going to die in the Senate anyways.

    This isn't about what Boehner can deliver or promise to deliver. This is about talking those loons into letting him stay on as the Speaker, as a dead bill will surely cost him his job.

  • Varecia on July 28, 2011 10:22 PM:

    They won't be happy until we have actually become The Republic of Gilead.

  • Nathan on July 28, 2011 10:25 PM:

    Why hasn't Reid passed his plan? Is he hoping to not pass any plan and just do a clean vote?

  • T2 on July 28, 2011 10:28 PM:

    a fools game being played by a bunch of fools....If Boner's dud of a bill passes, saving his job, the Senate will stuff it up his golf bag. GOP= fiddling while Rome burns.....

  • Buffalo Harold on July 28, 2011 10:31 PM:

    Makes one think of the old joke: What's the difference between a caucus and a cactus? Answer: In a cactus the pricks are all on the outside.

  • slf on July 28, 2011 10:35 PM:

    What surprises me is that the White House, or so says the NYT just now, is surprised. It's been clear for some time that Boehner didn't have the votes and leads only in title, that Cantor wants to replace him, and -- this is clearest of all, for a long time now -- that the inmates have literally taken over the asylum.

    Why is the White House so far behind the curve on this? If I could see this coming, and I'm not a politcal smartie, how could Pres. Obama himself and his team, whoever or whatever it is, be so taken aback? What planet are they on?

  • Bob M on July 28, 2011 10:36 PM:

    The Hermit Party won't go to their own vote.

  • Bo on July 28, 2011 10:40 PM:

    I used to call the GDumbya administration and his rubber stamp Congress "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight".

    I didn't think we could ever see anything worse than that. However, this current bunch of dolts has far surpassed that . . . "The Gang That's a Circular Firing Squad".

  • Uncle Omar on July 28, 2011 10:44 PM:

    This is probably a silly question, but couldn't the Senate Dems just take the House bill, amend it to a "clean" debt ceiling increase with no strings then send it back to a conference so that Boehner and the grown ups in the GOP (both of them) and the Dems in the House can pass it on a voice vote and get on down the road?

  • T2 on July 28, 2011 10:47 PM:

    Boner Blinked- no vote tonite- Tea Party rules the House. Boner bill dead in the water. Where do we go from here.........

  • dr. bloor on July 28, 2011 10:48 PM:

    No vote tonight, per majority whip.

    Right now, Boehner is wandering around the Capitol looking for a bill like Richard III looking for a horse.

  • bigtuna on July 28, 2011 10:49 PM:

    If you really want to have your head spin, here, in one page, is a great summary of the history of the ceiling, and its intellectual, policy, and financial absurdity.


    Congress has passed a series of budgets, which instruct the president how to spend

    Congress has also capped how much the president can spend

    So when Boner says its not his problem, this is utter bullshit

  • SD Progressive on July 28, 2011 10:56 PM:

    So, Boehner cannot get anything through the house he controls with a majority of his own party. Any hope that he could ignore the "Tea Party 90," address the sane Republicans, and bring Democrats in to find a middle ground to get a real bill passed acceptable to the senate and the President. Oh ya, never mind, that would help the country and make sense. What was I thinking? Sorry.

  • lahke on July 28, 2011 10:58 PM:

    And while all this excitement is going on, today I saw a couple panhandling at an intersection who had to be at least 70 years old, we have increasing child hunger here in Massachusetts, and there are millions of people without jobs. It's frosting on the cake that the airlines are collecting $200 million a week in an airline tax that the FAA is forbidden to receive, all so the GOP can work on union busting. I can't tell you how much I hate these people.

  • Archon on July 28, 2011 10:58 PM:

    The more reasonable Obama sounds the more dysfunctional our political process seems. To that end I hope the President switches gears from trying to be a unifier into basically exposing how broken our political institutions are. When a true consensus building pragmatist like obama is presiding over this debacle then you know something is terribly wrong with our politics. Before we blame the radicalized GOP we need to blame the system that would even allow this to happen in the first place

  • Tyler on July 28, 2011 11:04 PM:

    I dont understand this, my stuiped sister that knows nothing about the world undertsands more about congress then he dose. I think he is only trying to save his job after 2012, getting Tea Party support. Lets face it, he and the Tea Party just killed any chance they had they had at the white house, and there chances were already low.

    After the Mid Term, I was very happy to have both parties in Congress. I was thinking that they would have to relearn how to work together again. Two months later, I with the Dems had full control again...

  • delNorte on July 28, 2011 11:20 PM:

    I'm curious how the markets will handle this tomorrow - it might finally sink in that these Republicans just could, out of ignorance and stupidity (and whatever else it is that drives them), lead the nation to default.

    This bill was supposed to be brought up for a vote on Weds, now we're looking at Friday. Un-friggin-believable.

  • memekiller on July 28, 2011 11:37 PM:

    This doesn't appear to be going well for anyone. Maybe we should just stop playing politics and vote to raise the debt ceiling? We could always try again shutting down the government. What do you guys think?

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 28, 2011 11:45 PM:

    Like I said on another thread: theses asswipes are trying to take it so late that the Senate will have no time to do anything in the hopes this is the only alternative to avoid default. Sure hope 8/2 isn't the drop-dead date. It was suggested in the NYT the other day that Treasury could hold out another week.

  • spiny on July 29, 2011 12:24 AM:

    Steve, we have exactly the congress that Obama and his idiot "post-partisan" strategy deserve. He helped elect them by breaking his campaign promises and embracing Wall Street, the insurance industry, big pharma, and the rest of the corrupt big money players instead of actually helping main street and in so doing, demoralized the voters that expected him to change the broken system. Instead, he's proven that he's just another corrupt pol lying his ass off and looking to curry favor with the big money players.

    The President holds almost all of the cards in this artificial crises, and yet he continues to enable the radicals- by refusing to at least even threaten using the 14th amendment and not embracing a clean debt limit increase, all for a cheap political stunt of trying to appear "bipartisan" to some idiot swing state voters.

  • Johnny Canuck on July 29, 2011 12:45 AM:

    Uncle Omar on July 28, 2011 10:44 PM:

    Can't pass a clean bill until the very last hour and all alternatives have failed. Senate Republicans would filibuster. If nothing has passed by 11PM on the last day, suddenly the idea of a clean bill will occur to them.

    But the issue will be duration. Repub want to hold the economy hostage again soon.

  • Bigtuna on July 29, 2011 12:55 AM:

    Johnny c. Prob right. But how do repups look good politically by wanting to do this again soon? Seems like the average voter would say enough already.

  • Left Coast Liberal on July 29, 2011 1:01 AM:

    @ slf

    You are correct. The inmates have literally taken over the asylum that is today's Republican Party.

    But I don't think the White House is behind the curve on this. Obama had to show the country just how crazy the tea party caucus really is - and that they are the ones holding up the show. Now Wall Street, and other Republican donors who actually understand the market and the impact of default, will put the pressure on the party to make a deal. Lets just hope there are enough Republicans left in Congress who can be pushed into doing what's right for this country.

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  • Crackman on July 29, 2011 1:52 AM:

    Why doesn't congress (both bonner and reid) get together to ask the grand poobahs (Supreme Court) that Congress is forcing the executive branch to default on the debt which will be in violation of the Constitution. We need them to nullify the stupid debt limit ceiling so everyone can go on their merry way. It lets everyone off the hook - Bonner can then tell the troublemakers to work in a more sensible manner. The grand poobahs put Bushy in there I think they could write up some pretty good bull shit really a non-partisan issue.

  • exlibra on July 29, 2011 1:54 AM:

    Boner is a goner; who'd'a thunk that Pee-Pottiers would be as hard to herd as Dems?

    "DADeaste Table", says Craptcha. Self explanatory, as well as a propos, this time.

  • Hank Roberts on July 29, 2011 3:16 AM:

    PS, don't forget the Republican Reps' other recent contributions, e.g. forbidding the FAA from going through with proposals improving aircraft safety

  • JoanneinDenver on July 29, 2011 6:21 AM:

    The Tea Party is winning. The Senate will have no time to do anything but pass Boehner's bill or default. The real question is who wins with default? I suspect that by answering this question we will find out who is funding the Tea Party.

    What is it about "The South will rise again?"

  • Kathryn on July 29, 2011 7:49 AM:

    @Nathan, GOP would filibuster Reid's bill if he tried to pass it before Boehner circus is over. @slf New York Times is quoting White House about surprise correctly but that doesn't mean they're surprised, they are not surprised. @JoanneinDenver, Just my opinion, but I don't think so, Senate will not pass bill if it ever gets passed in House. It will be so freaking radical by then, default would be better. Clinton had a meeting with Obama yesterday, I still think 14th in play but only if no bill reaches Obama's desk.

  • blondie on July 29, 2011 7:57 AM:

    @Kathryn, I hope you're right about the 14th still being in play. Right now I think it's the only feasible way left. And if that means the R-led House moves to impeach him, wow - they'll get eviscerated.