The House just approved the rules of debate, 239 to 187, on the Boehner debt-ceiling plan. The vote was along party lines, and it was not close. In about an hour, the bill itself, with the poison-pill provision for a balanced-budget amendment, will pass the House. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will decry the insistence on the BBA, dramatically toss it aside and then begin the negotiation process (or continue it, rather) with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). McConnell has the toughest job of all — how to preserve as much of the Boehner bill as possible and still get it through the Senate (which requires stripping out the BBA), but navigate around the faction of 12 Republicans who insist they will hold up the works without the BBA.
The solution is simple: Meld the two bills, rely on a mix of Democrats and Republicans to get above 60 votes and obtain cloture, throw it back to the House, and, if needed, round up Democrats who would replace the Republican hardliners. In other words, thanks to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who whipped the vote against the speaker; the meddling Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.); the South Carolina Republican delegation; and those who don’t want to raise the debt ceiling at all, the bill will be more to Reid’s liking than it had to be. The House Republicans will be divided, and the White House will claim some sort of moral victory.
One more thing: The only major GOP presidential contender not to openly oppose the Boehner bill was Mitt Romney (sorry, Jon Huntsman isn’t “major”). I suspect there will be a significant shift in support his way, as primary voters consider how the hardliners have behaved. And poor Tim Pawlenty; if he hadn’t gone the Bachmann-lite way, he could have gotten some attention and showed some real muscle. Ah, well.