Back in 2011, John Boehner wanted to show Democrats that they’d have to make some serious concessions to get the debt ceiling raised, so he brought a “clean” bill to the floor that was roundly defeated –without even a single Republican voting in favor.
Fast forward to this week and Boehner is trying to make the same case again: his conference isn’t going to pass a clean bill that reopens the government or raises the debt ceiling — he just doesn’t have the votes.
But this time around Boehner is all tell and no show. He says he doesn’t have the votes, but he’s not proving it by putting a bill on the floor.
And there’s a good reason: the math’s against him.
As many as 22 Republicans could support a “clean” funding resolution according to NBC News, which sifted through tweets, official statements, and news reports for the whip count.
The White House has said they believe 24 House Republicans will vote for the bill, too—a top administration official told NBC Boehner’s warnings are “not true.”
So while Boehner is trying to recreate the same powerful image he showed in 2011, he’s looking a lot weaker in this round.
“Speaker Boehner has a credibility problem,” Senate Majority Leader and Nevada Democrat Harry Reid said in a statement, slamming the Republican House Speaker for “stating that the House doesn’t have the votes to pass a clean CR at current spending levels,” among other things.
Assuming the most of the House’s 200 Democrats vote for a clean C.R.–195 of them signed a letter supporting it last week– the bill could pass with just 22 Republican votes.
But the bill still needs to come up for a vote and Boehner has said he won’t violate the Hastert Rule by bringing a bill to a vote that doesn’t have the support of a majority of the majority party.
“I talked to Democrats and Republicans who were pretty bewildered by what Boehner had said. The way Peter King put it to me was there are probably 50-75 GOP votes for this,” Peters said on Monday’s Morning Joe. “He told me he thinks there would be 150 GOP votes for this if it were a secret ballot.”
House Republicans are eager to get out of the stalemate, Peters said, but Boehner’s remarks on ABC’s “This Week” indicate that the leadership is unwilling to ignore the Tea Party.
“John Boehner’s comments were really interesting yesterday because what he was saying effectively was ‘OK, these far-right conservative members of my conference, all the people the world has been telling me to throw under the bus, I’m not going to do that.’” Peters said. “He has really dug in here.”
“We do have the votes to pass a clean C.R.; they could pass it today,” host Joe Scarborough said Monday. “They have the votes to pass a clean, debt ceiling increase. They have that today. John Boehner could go on the floor at nine o’clock this morning.”
Democrats have done what they can to try and force a vote, beginning the legwork on an unlikely “discharge vote”—a procedural trick that forces a vote when a majority of House members sign on.
But it’s unlikely the 22 Republicans who are likely to support clean funding bill would sign on—many have said they’ll only support the funding bill if Boehner brings it to a vote, NBC News reports. (And discharge votes are notoriously impossible to navigate—just 12 have successfully brought a vote to the floor.)
For now, Democrats are left dogging Boehner to bring up a vote.
“This crisis could be over in hours if the Speaker and the Republicans would just take yes for an answer instead of continuing to be party of no,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Saturday. “One by one Republicans members have come forward to say they are willing to vote to open government by supporting a clean funding bill. Right now, enough Republicans have publicly stated their support which could pass and be on the president’s desk today.”