House Republican leaders headed off another rebuke from their conservative members and with near unanimity passed legislation to raise the debt limit through May 18, without locking in any cuts to federal spending.
In a break from the recent, albeit brief, trend of Republican leaders passing legislation with Democrats providing a majority of votes, Republicans held together, despite the fact that they surrendered their central demand that debt limit increases be paired with concomitant spending cuts.
The final vote was 285-144: 199 Republicans and 86 Democrats voted for the bill; 111 Democrats and only 33 Republicans voted against it.
On the floor, Democrats made Boehner prove he had his conference on his side. Most of them withheld their votes (or voted no) until the roll call cleared the 217 vote threshold for passage.
The legislation now comes to the Senate, where Democrats-elated that they’ve forced Republicans to free the debt limit hostage-say they’ll happily take action on it.
“The Republicans have stepped back from the precipice when it comes to the debt limit and essentially admitted that their demand of the last two years for spending cuts equal to the debt limit increase is both absurd and unworkable,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
At a Wednesday press conference Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he’d be willing to take up the bill and pass it as is-but snuck in one last shot at the GOP, which remains badly divided in the wake of a series of legislative defeats. “I don’t know if the Republicans will vote for it,” he said. “We’ll have to see.”
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.