John Boehner - Caricature

John Boehner - Caricature by DonkeyHotey


John Boehner’s plan for raising the debt limit, which would lead to “the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history” according to one budget analyst, cannot pass the House of Representatives because it’s not conservative enough, according to the chair of the Republican Study Committee, Jim Jordan (R-OH). Jordan, who announced his opposition to the Boehner plan yesterday, says that the bill does not have the required 218 votes needed to pass the House:

“I am confident as of this morning that there are not 218 Republicans in support of the plan,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told reporters at a Tuesday morning press briefing.

Two-hundred eighteen votes is the usual number required to pass legislation in the House. Because of vacancies, that number is currently 217. That means Boehner can lose no more than 23 Republicans and still pass his plan that would raise the debt limit and set the country up for another default crisis early in 2012.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said “very few” if any Democrats will join Boehner. “I don’t want to give a number, but very few.”


Only five Democrats joined Republicans to pass the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, parts of which are included in the Boehner plan. But the fact that it only includes a symbolic vote on a balanced budget amendment, and the fact that it punts most of the deficit reduction work to a 12-member committee, and the fact that it doesn’t cut deficits nearly as much as some of the more right-leaning plans out there, has led conservatives to oppose the bill. Michele Bachmann, founder of the Tea Party caucus and Republican Presidential candidate, won’t support the plan, and several other conservatives announced their opposition yesterday. Right now there are 240 Republicans in the House, and 217 votes are needed currently (thanks to two vacancies) to pass a bill. So Republicans can only lose 23 members, unless they pick up Democratic votes along the way. Jordan doesn’t think the GOP is close to that, and Nancy Pelosi doesn’t think the Democrats are coming to the rescue.

And Eric Cantor understands this, apparently:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) delivered a blunt message to the Republican Conference Tuesday morning: Quit the “grumbling” and “whining” and come together to rally behind Speaker John Boehner to pass his debt ceiling plan [...]

“The debt limit vote sucks,” he said, according to an attendee of the closed meeting. But Republicans have three options, Cantor said: risk default, pass Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) plan — which he thinks gives President Barack Obama a blank check — or “call the president’s bluff” by passing the Boehner plan, which not only cuts deeply into domestic spending but calls for a bipartisan commission to find more savings.

Cantor also announced that the House will hold a vote on a balanced budget amendment Thursday, a nod to vocal conservatives in the conference.

So all Cantor is offering is another symbolic vote on a balanced budget amendment, and asking conservatives to suck it up. Based on prior experience, I don’t think that’s likely to work.

Jay Newton-Small games out some of the permutations, but a lot hinges on whether Boehner can get his own bill past his caucus. If he can’t, strategically he’s in a terrible position to dictate anything. And that’s when we could see the Reid plan or even a clean bill come forward.