Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 27, 2011: Speaker John Boehner Reigns in Conservative Republicans while Harry Reid Promises ALL Senate Democrats Will Vote Against House Debt Plan


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.


House Speaker John Boehner; photo by Tom Williams/Roll Call

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is questioned by reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday. Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call.


“I didn’t put my neck on the line and go toe to toe with Obama to not have an army behind me.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“There are only three possible outcomes in this battle: President Obama gets his blank check; America defaults; or we call the president’s bluff by coming together and passing a bill that cuts spending and can pass in the United States Senate. There is no other option.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“The fact is, Republicans have offered the only proposal at this point that attempts to get at the root of the problem, and which actually has a chance of getting to the president’s desk.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

“The bottom line is there’s only one bill in Congress that’s a true compromise. We’re running out of time, and it’s time to get serious about finding that compromise.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“Get your ass in line. I can’t do this job unless you’re behind me.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s letter to Speaker Boehner on Wednesday night, signed by all 51 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them, explaining that the bill is dead on arrival in the Senate. — Reid.Senate.gov, 7-27-11

  • Debt ceiling: How would investors react to a default?: As the Aug. 2 debt deadline approaches, investors can envision everything from the stock market dropping like a rock to the economy shrinking as government vendors lay off thousands of workers…. – CS Monitor, 7-27-11
  • Debt-ceiling plans face CBO fire: Does either cut as much as promised?: Added to the political question of whether either one of the competing debt-limit plans can pass Congress is a practical question from the nonpartisan CBO: How much will they cut the deficit?… – CS Monitor, 7-27-11
  • Boehner’s debt ceiling plan has no Democratic votes, says Harry Reid: Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday that no Democrat in the Senate would vote for Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan should it pass the House, where it’s come under fire from conservatives groups and tea-party lawmakers for not going far enough to cut spending.
    The plan is a “big, wet kiss to the right wing,” Reid said at a packed Capitol Hill news conference. The entire 53-member Democratic caucus signed a letter opposing Boehner’s plan.
    Democratic leaders also signaled that a final deal will have to be worked out behind closed doors between leaders of the two parties, while Senate Republicans weighed whether to mount a filibuster against Reid’s rival proposal if it becomes the last option on the table to avert a catastrophic default before Tuesday’s deadline.
    Seeking to exploit fissures in Boehner’s caucus, Democrats repeatedly called on the Ohio Republican to scrap his plan to cut the deficit and hike the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit in two phases by next year. Reid’s plan would also slice the deficit but would raise the government’s borrowing limit through the 2012 elections…. – Politico, 7-27-11
  • On Boehner’s debt-ceiling bill, Democrats expecting few defectors: Few Democrats — if any — are expected to break ranks and vote for Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan Thursday.
    House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer has been urging Democrats to oppose Boehner’s proposal, which would bump up the debt ceiling in two increments – a chief Democratic complaint. Two members of Hoyer’s whip team said Wednesday that they believe Democrats will stick together to oppose the plan, which could come up for a vote as early as Thursday.
    A Democratic leadership aide was more confident: “Hoyer has been whipping against the Boehner bill very hard. No Democrats will vote for it.”
    There were signs of the proposal gaining traction within House Republicans on Wednesday. After a blunt speech Wednesday morning in which he told his rank-and-file to “get your ass in line,” Boehner and House GOP leaders had gained several new “yes” votes for the plan. And freshmen appeared to be coalescing around it…. – Politico, 7-27-11
  • In Both Houses, Fortifying Support for Rival Plans: House Republicans and Senate Democrats gained substantial support on Wednesday within party ranks for their separate plans to resolve a looming debt crisis, but the momentum seemed to be pushing both sides further from a compromise.
    Tea Party activists have been adamant about deep budget cuts. A small group of them gathered June 27 on Capitol Hill.
    It was a day in which Capitol Hill seemed to operate in alternate realities: Republicans in the House sharing near universal belief that the Senate will eventually cave and accept their plan, and Senate Democrats assured that they will have the last word over the weekend and ultimately force the hand of the House.
    As the House headed for a vote on Thursday, Congressional officials suggested that Senate leaders from both parties were keeping an open line for a potential compromise they could both brook. So far no such agreement appeared likely, and the Senate moved toward its own series of votes that could run through the weekend and perhaps into Monday, just one day short of the Aug. 2 date that the White House has insisted is the deadline for extending the debt ceiling for paying the nation’s bills…. – NYT, 7-27-11
  • With G.O.P. Unity at Risk, Boehner Tries Tougher Style: Speaker John A. Boehner is a laid-back leader who likes to say that his role is to let the House work its will. But with the nation’s economic standing and his own political future at risk, Mr. Boehner jettisoned his usual laissez-faire approach on Wednesday.
    “I didn’t put my neck on the line and go toe to toe with Obama to not have an army behind me,” Mr. Boehner declared at a private party meeting, according to some House members. He demanded the fealty of conservatives who were threatening to sink his budget proposal and deny him the chance to confront the Senate with a take-it-or-leave offer on a debt ceiling increase.
    Mr. Boehner really had no choice but to go all out. A defeat of that plan — which seemed likely Tuesday night before its prospects improved Wednesday — would have been a disastrous repudiation, in effect a stinging vote of no confidence in him…. – NYT, 7-27-11
  • States nervously watch debt-ceiling impasse: The U.S. government’s stalemate over raising the debt limit is taking a growing toll on states as Tuesday’s deadline draws near, with some canceling bond sales and identifying roadwork and other expenditures that could be delayed.
    “As the deadline to Aug. 2 comes closer, people are really, really worried,” says Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers.
    A failure by Congress to raise the $14.3 trillion federal debt limit would lower the nation’s credit rating and raise borrowing costs for states as well as 7,000 cities, counties, universities and non-profits. That’s partly because many interest rates — for everything from municipal bonds to mortgages — are benchmarked to U.S. Treasuries…. – USA Today, 7-27-11
  • President revs up PR in debt-ceiling debate: As House Republicans slog toward a Thursday vote on raising the debt ceiling, President Obama and his staff have hit the airwaves in a massive, all-hands-on-deck public-relations effort to turn the tide of political opinion in their favor. All told, the president has addressed the press on five different occasions since July 11.
    He has also dispatched his top aides — from senior advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe to White House press secretary Jay Carney and economic adviser Gene Sperling — to appear on TV and make his case for a more balanced approach to deficit cutting…. – The Hill, 7-27-11
  • Debt ceiling talks between Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell: Taking square aim at the White House, Republicans prepared to bring to a House vote Thursday a two-step $2.5 trillion debt ceiling bill that will avert default next week but threatens more conflict — and renewed instability — in six months.
    Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell remain in conversation over how to defuse the building confrontation before the threat of default next week. But with stocks falling again Wednesday, the fight between Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama has become so personal that each side says the other needs to find some way to save face before reaching a deal.
    Fifty-three senators, 51 Democrats and two independents, signed a letter to Boehner on Wednesday vowing to oppose the House bill. But the speaker is unapologetic about his intentions to use the default crisis to try to jam the Senate. And at a GOP conference Wednesday morning, he enlisted conservatives to be his “army” after he had stood “toe to toe” with the president and put his “neck on the line” for them…. – Politico, 7-27-11
  • Boehner tries to tame GOP on debt ceiling plan: A dust up among a major House conservative bloc and the prospect of tens of billions of dollars in new spending cuts has Republican leadership feeling as if it quelled an uprising on the right after struggling to line up votes for much of the week.
    Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois continued their hard sell of a two-step debt-limit package, meeting in Capitol offices to close the deal and avoid a default on the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt.
    In a closed-door Republican Conference meeting on Wednesday, Boehner demanded his wavering members “get your ass in line” to back his proposal, and some members obliged. Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, switched from voting no to yes during the 90-minute session. Reps. Blake Farenthold of Texas, Billy Long of Missouri and Jeff Denham of California are now backing the speaker’s plan, as are Reps. Darrell Issa of California, Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, Nan Hayworth of New York and Dan Lungren of California. Lungren even got up during the meeting and likened Boehner to Ronald Reagan, the conservative icon who was president during Lungren’s first stint in the House. Other hard “no” voters have flipped to leaning no or even undecided.
    But despite having momentum on their side, Boehner and his top lieutenants don’t have a big margin for error. Few, if any, Democrats are expected to vote for the debt ceiling package, so Republicans must cobble together 217 votes on their own. They can lose just 23 lawmakers and still pass it. As of press time, at least a dozen lawmakers were whipping “no.”… – Politico, 7-27-11
  • Short-term debt deal poses severe political risks for Obama: Kicking the US deficit can down the road will solve the problem now, but could ruin Obama’s second term… – The Guardian UK, 7-28-11
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