Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged Thursday afternoon that the Senate would defeat House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise the nation’s borrowing limit if it passes the House.
Does that mean that the Boehner plan would no longer be an option?
If the proposal by Boehner (R-Ohio) passes the House on Thursday night (those prospects remain uncertain), it would then head over to the Senate.
But Reid’s pledge Thursday didn’t mean that he planned to bring the measure up for a straight-up-or-down vote.
Instead, if the Senate votes on the measure Thursday night, it would be – in congressional procedure-speak – a vote on a motion to table the motion to concur on the House amendment.
That vote would require a simple majority for passage. With all 53 members of the Senate Democratic caucus vowing to oppose the Boehner plan, it’s nearly certain that Reid’s motion to table it would be approved.
The move would mean that the Boehner bill was not technically killed by the Senate – it would be put aside, and the bill would remain there.
At that point, there would be four procedural options going forward:
1. The Senate could amend the measure and pass it, then send it back to the House for approval, and then – if the House approves – on to President Obama’s desk. In amending the measure, Senate Democrats could change scope of spending cuts and the duration of the debt-ceiling increase (from a short-term one to a longer-term one), among other option.
2. The Senate could take up the Boehner plan again unchanged, and if it passed, send it to Obama’s desk for his signature (or veto). But Democrats have vowed that no aspect of the Boehner plan will see the light of day.
3. The Senate could take up Reid’s debt-ceiling plan. If it passed, it would head over to the House.
4. The Senate could fail to pass any measure – be it the unchanged Boehner plan, an amended Boehner plan or the Reid plan. At that point, congressional leaders and the White House would likely have to scramble to craft an eleventh-hour deal to avoid default or else, well, the nation would default on its debt obligations.
It’s worth noting that while the Congressional Budget Office said that the Reid plan would achieve $2.2 trillion in deficit savings, rather than the $2.7 trillion originally projected by Senate Democrats, Reid has said that the plan could be easily “tweaked” to ensure that the debt-limit increase is equal to the deficit savings.
Thoughts? Questions? The comments section awaits!