The House Rules Committee put out an informative sheet explaining how the two-step Boehner debt ceiling plan would work:
While some compare the new committee created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 to the many commissions that have tried and failed to achieve real change, there are key differences. The Joint Select Committee will have hard deadlines to produce real savings. Its work will also receive special consideration in both the House and Senate. And it would all have the force of law. Here’s how it would work:
●The 12 member committee has to produce a work product by November 23, 2011.
●It would have to file its final legislative proposal in the House and Senate by December 2, 2011 after which it is introduced as a bill.
●The Joint Committee bill would be debatable in the House for two hours and would not be subject to amendment. In the Senate, debate on the measure would be limited to 30 hours total, including procedural votes and quorum calls, would not be amendable, and would need a simple majority for passage.
●The bill requires action in both chambers by December 23, 2011. If action is not taken or the president does not sign the legislation approved by the Congress, there will be no further increase in the debt ceiling.
The fact is, no other commission — not Simpson-Bowles, not the Gang of Six, not the Biden Group — had this kind of guarantee of an actual up or down vote in the House and Senate. Furthermore, never before has a request to increase the debt ceiling been conditioned on actual spending reductions.
Opponents of the Boehner plan are running out of excuses not to pass it. Their charges become less specific (Another commission — boo!) because they either don’t have or don’t care to have a grasp of the details. But let the House vote. Send it to the Senate and see what happens. And let’s not forget the purists in the House and Senate on the right and the die-hard left were never going to agree to anything that could pass either body. And Obama? He’s not threatening to, and I don’t think he would have nerve, to veto the Boehner bill. I suspect that we’ll get the chance to test that theory.