One provocative thing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in his news conference today: That a so-called “clean” continuing resolution might not pass in the House even if it came to a vote.
That statement is at odds with the assumptions of many political watchers — including us — who have documented how it is likely to pass if House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were to allow a vote on it.
So does Cantor have a point? Are we wrong? Let’s break it down:
1) Our current whip count shows 19 House Republicans have said they would support a “clean” CR, with another four sounding favorably predisposed toward it.
2) There are 200 Democrats in the House
3) A bill needs 217 votes to pass (it’s usually 218, but there are currently three vacancies)
In other words, at this point, at least a few Democrats would have to vote against the clean CR in order for it to fail.
In addition, it’s likely that more than 19 House Republicans would back the clean CR. Yes, there are the four who sound amenable to it, but there are also likely others — from swing districts, for example — who would vote for it if it came down to it.
(These members have little reason to make their position public unless and until a vote is actually held, because otherwise they are just unnecessarily inviting a backlash from conservative groups, who are already suggesting they may target such members.)
So, assuming that there are at least two dozen GOP supporters, for example, at least seven House Democrats would have to vote no.
For what it’s worth, Senate Democrats were unanimous in support of the clean CR when that chamber voted last week. But the House caucus is different, with many more liberal members than the Senate. Cantor suggested they might vote against a budget that continues the sequester cuts, for example.
While that’s possible, we have no indication at this point that House Democrats would balk at a clean CR. But we’ll keep you posted.