What we know — and don’t — about a possible budget deal

July 28, 2011

What we know: We now know roughly what time the vote will occur on Speaker John Boehner’s bill. The offices of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy have announced that the final round of votes will occur around 6 p.m., which will include the Boehner legislation. House Republicans held a final conference meeting at 9 a.m., which served as part meeting, part pep rally. Boehner’s leadership team is holding a news conference at 1:30 p.m., after which a few hours of debate on the bill is expected. Assuming this timeline holds, the final vote would be a dinnertime affair.

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What we know: Republicans are increasingly optimistic they could win a majority for the bill. Prominent conservatives such as Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and and Mike Pence (R-Ind.) have said good things about the measure. The freshmen seem to be breaking strongly in the leadership’s favor.

What we don’t know: Whether the leadership has the votes. It’s just not clear. Boehner told lawmakers Thursday morning that he did not “yet” have the votes but predicted passage of the ball, as have several leadership aides. Entire state delegations — South Carolina and Georgia in particular — seem to be against the bill. The key bloc of votes belongs to a bunch of old-timers, the conservatives who were around to help tank the the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) on initial consideration in 2008. If those guys won’t bend, this one could go down, too. Noteworthy point: Issa and Pence led the ambush on TARP, but now they’re supportive of Boehner.

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What we know: There are 433 current members of Congress, two vacancies and the continued absence of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). This means, at most, there are 432 possible votes, making 217 the magic number for passage if all are present and voting. Yes, Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) is expected to be on hand.

What we don’t know: How many people will actually vote. On any given vote, people don’t show up. Who knows which members might be absent because of family emergencies and other unexpected distractions.

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What we know: Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Boehner (R-Ohio), along with Vice President Biden, are still talking about a possible compromise. Yes, still talking. They could come up with some modified version of Boehner’s plan (if it passes the House and heads to the Senate) or the Reid plan (if Boehner’s fails).

What we don’t know: When decisions on a deal might get made. The huddles and phone calls have yet to produce anything final.

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