It was a tense day, but in the end Speaker of the House John Boehner prevailed. Boehner’s bill to raise the debt ceiling without raising taxes passed in the House 218-210.
You had to love Boehner’s impassioned remarks shortly before the voting:
“I stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the president of the United States,” the Ohio Republican said. “I stuck my neck out a mile. And I put revenues on the table in order to try to come to an agreement.”
Jennifer Rubin, who has been terrific throughout the debt ceiling crisis, points out that Boehner made changes to appeal to more conservative elements of his caucus. Still, 22 Republicans voted against it.
One addition was a call for a balanced budget amendment. While I don’t support such an amendment, Democratic Dick Durbin’s outrage was hyperbole. If this amendment is made, it will be years from now, after the states have vetted and voted on it.
The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid promises a quick death. But has anybody noticed that it is Friday evening and Reid’s bill has not faced a vote yet? Need I remind anyone that the date for default, if the ceiling isn’t raised, is generally set at Aug. 2-Tuesday?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a good man. His character is not in question. But the fate of this legislation, and possibly our economy, hinges on his ability to reason with the president, and with his caucus.
The people’s House has spoken – not once, but twice – presenting the other chamber with legislation certified by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as cutting trillions of dollars in spending over the next decade while providing an immediate increase in the national debt limit.
In contrast, in the six months since President Obama formally requested that the debt ceiling be raised, the Senate has passed nothing.
Time is now of the essence. The quickest way for Congress to eliminate the possibility of default and ease the growing turmoil in our economy is for the Senate to take up the House-passed bill and send it to the president today. As Senate Democrats themselves noted today, a House bill that has been sent to the Senate and then tabled is “still pending” – meaning it can be taken up and passed at any time.
Both parties have been entrusted with power in Congress. Neither party has been authorized to take risks with the full faith and credit of the United States.
For the sake of our country, and the sake of our economy, the House has passed a responsible bill that can pass the Senate. Now it’s time for our colleagues in the Senate to pass it, send it to the president, and bring this crisis to an end.
Rubin gives us a rundown on what should happen in the next few days:
What now? As a Senate senior adviser put it, the trick is now for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to get as close back to the original Boehner bill (with no balanced budget amendment), which is actually the McConnell-Reid deal cooked up last weekend that the president nixed. If they can reach agreement on that tonight, the earliest a cloture vote could come would be Sunday night. If Reid and Boehner can round up the votes – notice that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and other Senate hardliners are written off and hence not terribly relevant – to get beyond 60, the bill can go to the House sometime Monday. (Yes, it’s frightful that this is how we operate.) That is the best case scenario for conservatives. If it doesn’t go so well, then the bill looks more Reid than Boehner, and House Democrats will have to carry the day when the bill comes back to the House.
The irony is that we could have had this deal last Sunday, but the White House rebuffed Reid-McConnell (or Reid-Boehner, if you prefer).