The margin was slim, the road was tortured and the outcome entirely unsatisfying for everyone involved. The final vote on the modified debt-ceiling bill was 218 to 210. Twenty-two Republicans voted no. You wonder why the speaker of the House had to make such a dramatic change in his bill if this many Republicans were still going to vote no.
The zealots’ “no” votes on Thursday forced the Boehner bill to the right, giving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reason to castigate the House.
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.
But how then does it get through the House? Well, either the Republicans supply the votes or the Democrats do. Either way, there is a path to a resolution.
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).
Right Turn will be back Saturday evening and throughout the day Sunday to cover the rest of the Perils of Pauline.