195 of the 200 Democrats in the House of Representatives have signed a letter to Speaker Boehner supporting a vote on a “clean CR.” They state that “the solution to this crisis is a simple piece of legislation that funds the government at levels that have already passed both chambers of Congress.” They take this position even though the funding levels would incorporate the sequester, which Democrats don’t care for.
When you combine these 195 Democrats with the 22 Republicans who reportedly support a clean CR, you have 217 members, a majority of the House’s 432 members. Thus, Speaker Boehner was probably wrong to say, on ABC’s This Week, that there aren’t enough votes in the House to pass a clean CR.
In any event, Boehner isn’t going to permit a vote. Thus, attention has focused on the possibility of a “discharge petition.” Under this device, a vote occurs if a majority of members sign a petition demanding one.
But a discharge petition does not appear to be in the cards because the Republicans who support a clean CR do not unanimously support a discharge petition. Indeed, Peter King, the most outspoken supporter of a clear CR, says he will not sign such a petition.
In any case, a petition would not lead to an immediate vote. Instead, the vote probably would not occur until November.
It should be noted, though, that the number of Republican members who would like to back down from the current showdown almost certainly exceeds the 22 who have gone on record, and probably exceeds that number by plenty. I suspect that very little in the way of a fig leaf would be required to start a mini-stampede among Republican members in favor of giving up the current fight.
But here’s the thing: the Democrats have no incentive to offer Republican members a fig leaf. The shutdown is producing too much polling and fund-raising joy for Dems.
So this farce will likely drag on until we’re right up against the debt-ceiling. At that point, most likely, Republicans will get their fig leaf on the budget side and Democrats will get something very close to a clean CR.
Or so it seems to me. It doesn’t seem too different to Bob Costa.