Whatever the ultimate outcome of the debt limit fight, the theatrics will continue in the House of Representatives for another week or so.
Scores of House Republicans say they won’t vote to raise the debt limit unless a Constitutional balanced budget amendment has been sent off to the states for ratification. And so whatever Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other Congressional leaders decide about the real path ahead, he’ll hold votes next week on a major spending cut and spending cap plan that includes a hike in the debt ceiling, and, separately, on a balanced budget amendment. The latter would require a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate and, in its current form, stands little chance of passing either chamber.
The votes themselves will put some political pressure on Democrats to support the nominally popular balanced budget amendment, and will allow Republicans to claim they voted to raise the debt limit in the event that the government runs out of borrowing authority. But the so-called “cut, cap, and balance” approach is dead on arrival in the Senate.
At a Friday press conference after a meeting with the GOP caucus, Boehner let slip, subtly, that the plan will go nowhere.
“The cut cap and balance plan that the House will vote on next week is a solid plan for moving forward,” he said. “Let’s get through that vote and then we’ll make decisions about what will come after.”
This effort is running parallel to the one leaders of both parties are putting together on the Senate side, in conjunction with the White House. That’s where the real solution lies. Boehner’s offer is a consolation prize, of sorts, for House conservatives, whom GOP leaders feel they must appease.
Hearing Boehner talk about it, you might think they had all the time in the world for symbolic votes.
“Senator McConnell pointed out that his plan is being put on the table as a last-ditch effort,” he said. “We’re far from the time for a last ditch effort.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.