Political Buzz Debt Ceiling Showdown, July 28-29, 2011: After Vote Delay on House Debt Plan, Boehner Hopes to Have Necessary Votes for Friday Vote — Obama will Address Nation This Morning on Debt Crisis


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.



John Boehner and Eric Cantor


Republican leader says the House will not vote tonight on debt bill: House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that the chamber will not vote tonight on Speaker John A. Boehner’s proposal to lift the federal debt ceiling. A vote on the bill had been scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, but as that hour approached, House leaders called for an indefinite postponement of the vote, signalling that Boehner, McCarthy and other House GOP leaders did not have the votes lined up to pass the Boehner plan.

Lacking Votes, House Won’t Vote on Boehner Debt Plan Tonight: Republican leaders in the House have announced that there will be no vote on the debt ceiling bill Thursday night, an indication that House Speaker John A. Boehner remains short of the votes necessary to pass his legislation.
Mr. Boehner and his top lieutenants called it a night after more than five hours of furious arm-twisting of freshman Republicans, many of whom emerged from the closed-door sessions appearing to be firmer in their opposition.
There was little indication of what else had transpired during an evening that was supposed to have been a victory for Mr. Boehner as he passed a second debt-limit bill over to the Democratic Senate.
Instead, the evening highlighted the tensions within his conference and the sway that the Tea Party backed members hold within Mr. Boehner’s party.
There was no indication of whether a vote might still come on Friday.

“What a compromise looks like is pretty clear. Significant deficit reduction; a mechanism by which Congress would take on the tough issues of tax reform and entitlement reform; and a lifting of the debt ceiling into 2013 so that we do not have the cloud of uncertainty that is hanging over our economy right now.” — White House press secretary Jay Carney

“It’s Mad Hatter time on the Hill… None of this has anything to do with the economy, it’s all power games inside the Beltway.” — A Senior White House Official

“This bill is not perfect. I’ve never said it was perfect. Nobody in my caucus believes it’s perfect.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“No Democrat will vote for a short-term Band Aid that would put our economy at risk.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

“What we need to do is get beyond, you know, voting on dead-on-arrival measures that aren’t going to become law when we have so few days left to reach a compromise.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

“Clock ticks towards August 2, House is naming post offices, while leaders twist arms for pointless vote. No wonder people hate Washington.” — White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer on Twitter

  • Factbox: Details of competing debt limit plans: House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid are pushing rival plans to raise the government’s borrowing limit before an August 2 deadline. Reid could modify his plan to attract Republican support once Boehner’s bill fails in the Senate. Here are details of the two plans… – Reuters, 7-28-11
  • Factbox: House factions influence debt/deficit vote: On any major piece of legislation that moves through Congress, various factions within the House of Representatives and Senate can influence chances of success or failure.
    That has been especially true in the debate over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit by August 2 in order to avoid a U.S. government default. Here is a rundown of the various factions — many overlap — and how they shaped the debate and how they might influence the final vote:


    Reuters, 7-28-11

  • Obama to Speak on Debt Crisis: President Obama will deliver a statement about the debt-ceiling fight at the White House at 10:20 a.m. at the White House. His appearance will kick off what is sure to be an eventful day in the partisan showdown over the budget, with the clock ticking toward midnight on Tuesday, when the government will exhaust its ability to pay all its bills without additional borrowing.
    It is not clear whether Mr. Obama intends merely to exhort Congress or to put any new proposal on the table. On Capitol Hill, House Republican leaders continue to scramble to find the votes they need to pass their version of legislation to cut spending and increase the debt ceiling…. – NYT, 7-29-11
  • House Leaders Meet Again to Round Up Votes: House Republicans prepared to head into a crucial closed-door session in the basement of the Capitol at 10 a.m. Friday.
    The meeting will provide another opportunity for the House leadership to determine whether they have the votes to push through their debt-ceiling plan.
    Republican aides said that John A. Boehner, the House speaker, “remains committed” to preventing default and said they expected to vote on the speaker’s plan at some point Friday. But that kind of optimism persisted throughout the day on Thursday and did not end in a vote…. – NYT, 7-29-11
  • Debt ceiling vote postponed; for John Boehner, ‘it’s all on the line’: John Boehner faces the biggest test of his speakership Friday morning as he tries to resuscitate a monumental debt-limit bill that was forced from the floor Thursday night because Republican leaders hadn’t lined up enough votes to pass it.
    On the line: The outcome of a debt-limit increase that has consumed Washington and New York for months, Boehner’s standing in the Republican Conference, and the balance of power between the House GOP and the Democrats who control the White House and the Senate. Republican leaders hoped to put the bill back on the floor Friday, either in its current form or in a slightly altered state, and some in the GOP worried that Thursday night’s failure to move the bill could disrupt markets.
    But Boehner has been in plenty of tough scrapes before, and he tends to stay very cool when others start to panic. He’ll address his troops at 10 a.m. Friday in a closed meeting in the basement of the Capitol with a lot at stake.
    “This is the key week of Boehner’s speakership,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) told POLITICO. “It’s all on the line.” Politico, 7-29-11
  • Obama: Waiting, waiting, waiting: President Obama planned to make some kind of statement last night — after the Republican House passed Speaker John Boehner’s debt ceiling plan.
    Instead, as he has for most of the week, Obama sat and waited as Boehner scrambled to find enough Republicans to get his plan through the House — and eventually put off a final vote.
    Largely sidelined since Boehner decided last week to break off direct White House talks, Obama and his team are constantly trying to game out the next moves in the debt ceiling dispute, hoping to avoid the prospect of a government default next week.
    Administration official still expect the Boehner bill to pass at some point, hopefully today. They also expect the Democratic Senate to then kill the Boehner plan, setting up even more talks on a potential compromise.
    Officials also said there’s enough similarities between the Boehner plan and the proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to get a deal and avoid a potential government default next week…. – USA Today, 7-29-11
  • Boehner fights for debt ceiling bill, as protesters rally against him: The federal government is now just over 4 days away from maxing out its credit card. House Speaker John Boehner is having real trouble even getting Republicans to pass his debt ceiling bill.
    Opponents are planning to stage a protest at 10 a.m. on Friday, as a counter to Monday’s tea party support rally. Protests will be calling on the House Speaker to spare social security, medicare, medicaid and college scholarship programs from funding cuts. That rally comes as Boehner struggles to get enough Republican support to pass his latest debt ceiling-budget cutting plans in Washington, D.C.
    Thursday night, a vote on that plan was postponed for lack of support among his own party members.
    Congressman Boehner told reporters late Thursday, “The bill’s not perfect, I’ve never said it was perfect, nobody in my caucus believes it is perfect. But what this bill reflects is a sincere, honest effort to end this crisis.”
    Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “What we need to do is get beyond, you know, voting on dead-on-arrival measures that aren’t going to become law when we have so few days left to reach a compromise.”
    Carney was referring to the fact that 53 Democratic senators have written a letter to Speaker Boehner saying they oppose his debt ceiling bill and will vote against it, if and when it arrives in the Senate.
    Before the house convenes at 11 a.m. Friday morning, it’s expected Boehner will be spending the morning, twisting the arms of more house republicans to see if he can get enough votes for his almost $1 trillion in cuts to raise the federal debt ceiling before Tuesday…. – KY Post, 7-29-11
  • U.S. House Bids to Salvage Boehner Debt Bill: House Republican leaders, four days before a threatened U.S. default and facing stiff resistance within their ranks to raising the U.S. debt ceiling, plan to make a second try at passing legislation that is headed for a Senate roadblock.
    Republicans led by House Speaker John Boehner were forced to scrap action on the measure late last night. They are considering a rewrite for a second time this week after face-to- face meetings with recalcitrant lawmakers failed to yield the votes to push it through the House.
    Skeptics concerned that the plan wouldn’t do enough to rein in the debt were insisting on conditioning part of the borrowing boost on congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
    The measure should be amended to “something transformative that transcends election cycles and has some degree of permanency to it,” said Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, a freshman opponent of the measure who met with House leaders for three hours last night as they struggled unsuccessfully to build support for the bill.
    The delay was a setback for Boehner and his leadership team, forcing them to delay a vote until today. They implored Republicans to back a measure that President Barack Obama’s advisers have said he would veto and Senate leaders promised to quickly defeat…. – Bloomberg, 7-29-11
  • Senior White House Official: ‘Mad Hatter Time on the Hill’: President Obama is likely to speak today to try to reassure any panicking Americans and to urge Congress to compromise.
    White House officials had expected that Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would be able to pass his bill Thursday night and watched in disbelief as he pulled the bill because it didn’t have enough votes to pass.
    While the president believes the debacle on the Hill underlines his belief that passing a small bill is no easier than passing a big one, he also believes the time for a big deal has passed, officials said…. – ABC News, 7-29-11
  • Republican House Leaders Work for Votes Into the Night: The waiting continued at the Capitol Thursday night as the Republican leadership worked late looking for votes that could rescue House Speaker John A. Boehner’s debt ceiling bill.
    At just after 10 p.m., staff members for the Rules Committee were seen walking into the office of Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority whip, prompting speculation that the panel will try to clear the way for the House to consider changes that might win a few extra votes.
    Representatives Tim Scott of South Carolina and Jason Chaffetz of Utah, as well as Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, John Mica of Florida and Cory Gardner of Colorado, entered Mr. McCarthy’s office. All are Republicans who have expressed doubts about or outright opposition to the bill…. – NYT, 7-28-11
  • Post-Aug 2 plan may be unveiled as soon as Friday: The U.S. Treasury will unveil a plan as soon as Friday evening on how the government will function and pay its bills if it looks like Congress will not raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner, an administration official said on Thursday.
    Republican and Democratic lawmakers are scrambling to broker a deal to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt cap before Tuesday, when the Treasury will no longer be able to borrow funds to meet all of its obligations…. – Reuters, 7-28-11
  • U.S. House Postpones Debt-Ceiling Vote as Compromise Sought: House Speaker John Boehner, falling short of the votes within his own party needed to increase the U.S. debt limit after a night of one-on-one appeals to members, cancelled a vote on a plan that Senate leaders pledge to defeat.
    Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House’s chief vote-counter, told reporters after several hours of closed-door meetings that there would be no House vote tonight.
    Senate Democrats meanwhile are working to break the impasse over raising the debt limit by devising a strict enforcement mechanism to guarantee future deficit savings, according to Democratic officials.
    After the House postponed a vote planned at about 6 p.m. Washington time, the speaker summoned fellow Republicans opposing his plan into his office and walked to McCarthy’s office, where pizza was delivered. Representative Jeff Flake, who went in and out repeatedly, said he remained opposed to the plan after meeting with Boehner…. – Bloomberg, Businessweek, 7-28-11
  • House calls off vote on Boehner debt ceiling plan: House leaders called off a vote on Speaker John Boehner’s plan to cut federal spending and raise the nation’s debt limit late Thursday, after a last-ditch lobbying effort failed to line up the Republican votes needed to ensure passage.
    Party leaders held out hope that further changes could attract wavering conservatives. The House Rules Committee was set to meet at 11 p.m. Eastern time to amend the measure, striking some or all of $17 billion in supplemental funds for Pell Grants, a move that would add to the plan’s $915 billion in deficit savings.
    A meeting of the full House Republican conference is planned for Friday morning…. – LAT, 7-28-11
  • Republicans search for votes with Boehner plan in jeopardy: House leaders worked late into the night Thursday to convince the final few wavering Republicans to back a debt ceiling plan from House Speaker John A. Boehner, even as the Senate stood by ready to immediately kill the plan.
    A vote that had been scheduled for the early evening was postponed just moments before it was to be called, when the GOP leadership recognized it was shy of the 216 members needed to advance the measure.
    In an effort to win over some of the conference’s more conservative members, Boehner was prepared strike $17 billion in supplemental funds for Pell Grants, which would add to the plan’s $915 billion in deficit savings.
    Republicans were eight votes short, but dropped down to two after hours of negotiations, aides said…. – LAT, 7-28-11
  • Debt Vote Crucial to GOP Cohesion: House Speaker John Boehner was working Thursday night to win a high-stakes showdown over the debt-ceiling bill he has crafted, with the outcome crucial to both the deficit debate and his tenure as speaker.
    House Republican leadership aides had expressed confidence all day that Mr. Boehner would win the votes of enough balky conservatives to secure passage of his plan. And win he must, leaders said, if the GOP conference, tugged between loyalties to Mr. Boehner and to tea-party activists, is to be molded into a reliable governing majority.
    “This is a defining vote,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.), a senior member of the vote-counting “whip” team. He described the vote as important not just to the speaker but to the cohesion of the entire Republican House contingent.
    The vote on the measure to raise the nation’s borrowing limit by an initial $900 billion—scheduled for Thursday evening then abruptly postponed—may be of little consequence in the larger struggle to avoid a first-ever default on the nation’s debt. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged the bill would die promptly in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
    But to the workings of the House and the future of Mr. Boehner’s speakership, success is vital. The outcome has turned into a contest between Mr. Boehner, an 11-term House veteran, and the tea-party freshmen who made him speaker. Those members were listening to more senior conservatives—especially those such as such Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) who are seeking higher office—as they fueled a rebellion against Mr. Boehner’s approach, demanding more deficit reduction and harder limits on future spending than the speaker’s bill offers.
    Late Thursday, the wavering of those young conservatives forced the delay on the vote for the second time in a week…. – WSJ, 7-28-11
  • House delays vote on Boehner debt-limit plan: The U.S. House is in recess and has delayed a vote on Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, as the GOP leadership tries to get votes for passage.
    Two hours of debate on Boehner’s measure, which would raise the nation’s borrowing authority and cut spending by a greater amount, ended hours ago and the House moved on to bills that name post offices. The GOP leadership had said they hope to hold a vote “later.”
    Congress is racing to avert a historic default on America’s financial obligations by Tuesday.
    Boehner met with resistant lawmakers throughout the day to secure the bill’s passage, even though it will likely die when it reaches the Democratic-controlled Senate. Some members of the House GOP majority are balking because the bill does not cut enough spending…. – USA Today, 7-28-11
  • Vote delayed on debt bill as default date looms: A Republican plan to cut the budget deficit stumbled toward a vote in Congress on Thursday and its expected demise could force a compromise to avert an imminent and unprecedented debt default by the world’s largest economy.
    With the measure short of as many as four votes, according to aides, the Republican-led House of Representatives abruptly delayed a vote as Speaker John Boehner struggled to overcome objections from conservative rebels in his own party…. – Reuters, 7-28-11
  • House GOP leaders scrambling for votes for their debt ceiling plan: Republicans in the House of Representatives struggled Thursday to find enough votes within their own ranks to pass a GOP plan to cut future deficits and raise the nation’s debt limit – even though their party leaders were solidly behind the plan.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, abruptly postponed an early evening vote. Instead, he and other leaders worked furiously to persuade 217 Republicans to vote for passage. Recalcitrant Republicans were summoned to Boehner’s office for arm-twisting sessions.
    Many GOP conservatives, under strong pressure from tea party and other like-minded groups, were balking, saying the GOP plan wouldn’t cut federal spending enough – and some said that the nation’s debt limit shouldn’t be raised at all.
    A defeat would be a huge embarrassment for Boehner. “This is a vote that John needs,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y…. – Miami Herald, 7-28-11
  • Debt deal compromise suggested by Democrats: Democrats are aiming for a debt-limit compromise similar to the House Republican plan, with at least one major difference: The second vote on raising the debt ceiling would not depend on Congress passing a broader deficit-reduction package.
    The shape of this potential compromise meshes major elements of the proposals offered in recent weeks by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), according to Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations.
    Under the possible compromise, Congress could still get a second crack at voting on the debt limit within months. But rather than linking the vote to Congress approving the recommendations of a new 12-member committee — as it would be in Boehner’s bill — Democrats prefer McConnell’s proposal that allows President Barack Obama to lift the debt ceiling unless two-thirds of both chambers override his veto of a disapproval resolution, the officials said…. – Politico, 7-28-11
  • Sarah Palin’s Well-Timed Reminder to Freshmen: Sarah Palin has impeccable timing. The former Republican vice presidential nominee took to her Facebook page Thursday afternoon to warn freshman Republicans in the House that they just might face primary opposition if they cave in to demands by their party to raise the debt ceiling.
    “All my best to you, GOP Freshmen, from up here in the Last Frontier. Sincerely, Sarah Palin,” she wrote. “P.S. Everyone I talk to still believes in contested primaries.”
    Just two hours later, House Speaker John A. Boehner was forced to postpone the vote on his proposal to increase the debt ceiling at the last minute, apparently facing a revolt among some of those very members…. – NYT, 7-28-11 Sarah Palin on Facebook, Congressional Freshmen – For Such A Time As This, 7-28-11
  • The weak speaker: How a failed debt vote disarmed the nation’s top Republican: House Speaker John Boehner failed to muster enough GOP votes to pass his plan to raise the debt limit on Thursday night, throwing into question the fate of Boehner’s proposal as well as that of his speakership. Republican leaders must now rewrite the legislation in order to attract more conservatives as they try to pass a revised version on Friday. But considerable damage has been done. Boehner’s negotiating stance in the ongoing effort to trim deficits and raise the debt ceiling by next Tuesday’s deadline is hobbled; any credibility he had in claiming that his restive members could get behind a consensus debt deal has vanished. The Speaker has gone lame. … – Time, 7-29-11
  • US debt crisis: Is Obama’s leadership style suited to the moment?: Despite Obama’s use of the bully pulpit in the showdown over the debt limit, he is not a direct party to negotiations. How much has his cautious leadership style contributed to his predicament?….
    And Obama himself is no longer even a direct party to the negotiations. His White House must rely on its Democratic allies, particularly in the Democratically-controlled Senate, to stay in the loop.
    But certainly there is a dimension to Obama’s leadership style – a tendency to set a policy framework and then let Congress work out the details – that has contributed to the state of play…. – CS Monitor, 7-27-11
  • Why John Boehner is determined to pass his doomed debt-ceiling bill: House Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan won’t pass the Senate. Yet he is making huge efforts to ensure it passes the House – including delaying a vote Thursday – because his leadership is at stake.
    House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday expended a tremendous amount of time and energy on a debt-ceiling bill that is doomed to fail, because his credibility as leader of the House depends upon it. If Mr. Boehner can’t marshal his Republicans to back him on this crucial vote, he risks losing his leverage in the debt-ceiling endgame.
    “If this were a parliamentary system, this would have been the equivalent of a no confidence vote,” says Stan Collender, a longtime federal budget analyst and partner at Qorvis Communications in Washington.
    Thursday afternoon GOP leaders delayed the vote on Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan – typically a sign that they have yet to find the 217 votes needed to pass the bill. Even if the Boehner plan makes it through the House, however, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada says that the has the votes to make sure it goes nowhere in the Senate. President Obama has threatened to veto it…. – CS Monitor, 7-28-11
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