We have a deal that could avoid default — now can Congress pass it?That is the question many in both parties are asking themselves today on Capitol Hill, where both house of Congress are preparing to vote on legislation no one really wants to pass.
The deal was reached when most expected it would be — at the very last possible moment, with barely 51 hours remaining to raise the debt ceiling — and through a bipartisan compromise that left both sides wanting more.
In the Senate, where collegiality is of foremost concern, the bill will have no difficulty passing even the 60-vote threshold that conservative Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is demanding in exchange for waiving the body’s rules to speed the vote.
But in the House, where tempers have flared over the past two weeks, the road to passage is uncertain.
Tea Party Republicans, making up much of the class of 87 GOP freshmen, are unhappy that the bill does not include a requirement to pass a balanced budget amendment before raising the borrowing limit. And defence hawks are also worried by the mandatory cuts to spending that would take effect if the bipartisan “Super Committee” fails to reach the allotted spending cuts target.
Progressives, meanwhile, are livid at the level of spending cuts without tax increases on the wealthy. Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver called it a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.” You can bet he’s not voting for it.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is publicly noncommittal on the deal, but her deputy, Democratic White Steny Hoyer, is reportedly on board and lining up Democratic support.
Capitol Hill sources say Democrats can provide between 60-80 votes for the deal and that Speaker of the House John Boehner will have to provide the rest. After the difficulty he had wrangling votes for his more GOP-friendly plan last week, nothing is a done deal.
Right now opposition appears to be limited to the influential, but small caucuses, and both Democratic and Republican leaders appear confident this deal will pass. But expect them to push the votes on this deal to happen quickly, before any organised opposition coalesces.
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