Boehner Bill 2.0 Passes, 218-210 [UPDATE: Tabled in Senate, 59-41]

Boehner Bill 2.0 Passes, 218-210 [UPDATE: Tabled in Senate, 59-41]

Boehner Bill 2.0 Passes, 218-210 [UPDATE: Tabled in Senate, 59-41]

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 29 2011 6:28 PM

Boehner Bill 2.0 Passes, 218-210 [UPDATE: Tabled in Senate, 59-41]

photo(3)

The arm-twisting worked -- the arm-twisting by Boehner and the arm-twisting done to Boehner. Twenty-two Republicans opposed the bill and no Democrats backed it.

The vote began with a little bit of theater. Democrats used a chance to force a vote on a pleasant-sounding, pointless amendment from Rep. Kathy Hochul -- you may remember her from such elections as NY-26. She used five minutes of time to speak about the Democratic priorities that her amendment would symbolically enshrine. Bored Republicans waited for her to wrap, then yelled "Time! Time!" Democrats gave her a standing ovation as she went back to her seat; the vote on the amendment went like everyone expected. It reminded me of another joke today, when Republicans started to respond to Barack Obama's twitter feed -- it was telling people how to tweet at their members, and ask for compromise -- with a photo. It showed that a search for "debt ceiling plan" on WhiteHouse.gov went nowhere. Kid stuff.

The Budget Control Act was a heavier carry than Republicans ever wanted. It took thirteen minutes for the votes to come together, with Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy dashing around to talk to members, and every South Carolina Republican waiting to the last moment to vote no. On the way out, triumphant, McCarthy gave Allen West a fist-pound.

Who are these no votes? The entire South Carolina GOP delegation of Tim Scott, Joe Wilson, Trey Gowdy, Mick Mulvaney, and Jeff Duncan held out. Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, both presidential candidates, voted no after sending countless e-mails fundraising off of the coming votes. Exactly half of the noes came from freshmen; the big surprise among the senior noes was Tom Latham, a close ally of Boehner's.

The bill moves to the Senate tonight. It has, as Harry Reid has told everyone today and before, no chance of passage.

"It one time was agreed to by the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate," said Boehner. Not quite true, as some Republicans bitter about the revolution pointed out. Because of the last-minute changes, it was a different bill, and less of a tool to beat Democrats with.

"If we'd supported the Speaker last night," said a rueful Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla, "our negotiation position would have been better. It would have been much tougher for him to turn that deal down."

UPDATE 8:24: The Senate quickly voted to table the bill, in a bipartisan 59-41 vote, with conservative critics of the bill joining the opposition. They were: Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, David Vitter, and Orrin Hatch and Lindsey Graham. The latter two senators are probably going to face primary challenges; although Graham is not up until 2014, he was loud and adamant about his opposition to the Boehner bill.

This led into a somewhat surreal debate on the floor between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Reid, prepping the vote on his own bill, suggested that Republicans allow it to pass on a majority vote.

"If the House can pass something with a simple majority," he said, "So can we. If the House required a supermajority, we wouldn't even be discussing the Boehner measure."

McConnell looked as annoyed as he ever has. What was Reid talking about? A fruitless debate over the merits of the argument became a fruitless debate over who walked out of which White House meetings, and when. But the substance of the majority-vote argument was that Reid lacked 60 votes for his bill; McConnell wanted to bring it up immediately, hold a cloture vote, and win.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.