Does Boehner Have the Votes?

In about an hour, the House of Representatives will vote on Speaker John Boehner’s revised bill to cut spending and increase the debt limit. Normally one would assume that Boehner wouldn’t schedule the vote unless he knew he had the votes needed for passage, but news accounts say the outcome was still in doubt as of a few hours ago.

I am not crazy about some aspects of Boehner’s bill. In particular, I don’t want to hear about trillions of dollars in cuts that are supposed to take place a decade from now. Those “cuts” are completely fictitious. Nor do I like the idea of a 12-person committee being delegated to find more areas to reduce spending.

Still, Boehner’s measure has several clear virtues. It does cut current spending by a modest $20-plus billion. It raises the debt limit by “only” $900 billion, meaning that the issue would have to be revisited next year. And, perhaps most important at this point, it puts the ball squarely in Harry Reid’s court. One would hope that voters have begun to notice that the only body that has actually done anything concrete to resolve the debt impasse is the House of Representatives. Unlike the Senate, it has passed a budget. It also passed cut, cap and balance. So now, for the third time, the House will have acted while the Democratic Senate can’t get its act together.

Harry Reid says he will organize a vote in the Senate to defeat the House bill, perhaps as early as tonight. Maybe so. But as the clock ticks toward August 2 (which may or may not be a particularly meaningful date, but the Republicans are best served by going along with the assumption that it is), it will be obvious to everyone that any failure to resolve the debt ceiling issue lies at the door of the Democratic Party; in particular, Harry Reid and Barack Obama. So let’s hope Boehner has the votes.

UPDATE: He didn’t; not yet, anyway. The vote has been postponed, but might take place later tonight.


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