On Tuesday, it looked like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might be put into a tight spot.
GOP leadership in the House planned to disrupt the Senate negotiations by pushing its own bill to lift the debt ceiling and reopen the government.
The bill could have put Democrats including Harry Reid in an awkward spot because the GOP bill was not going to be wildly unreasonable — and because acquiescing to it would have been acquiescing to “ransom” demands.
In the end, Reid was not forced into a difficult position. And he got some help from unlikely sources.
First, around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday night, Heritage Action, an influential conservative group that has led the charge to “defund Obamacare” in recent months, came out and urged lawmakers to vote “no” on the House’s legislation, arguing that it didn’t do enough to change the Affordable Care Act.
About an hour later, FreedomWorks echoed Heritage’s key vote of “no,” with President and CEO Matt Kibbe saying the legislation amounted to a “full surrender” from Republicans on Obamacare.
A little while later, House GOP leadership shelved consideration of the legislation. A House GOP aide said that the legislation was “cooked” before the two conservative groups announced their opposition. But amid rising conservative angst, those two groups stuck the final knife in the House plan.
A Senate Democratic aide said that they would have preferred if the House passed legislation, because it would speed up the process in a race to the Oct. 17 debt-ceiling deadline.
“It would provide us a vehicle and allow us to move more quickly through the Senate process,” the aide said.
But the failure of the House legislation already appears to have done that, as Politico reports that the House may vote first on the Senate’s emerging deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. If the House votes first, it would give the Senate an escape from weighty procedural hurdles and possibly allow the bill to come to President Barack Obama’s desk by the deadline.
The House legislation’s failure also resigned Speaker John Boehner to the inevitable — he will have to put the Senate bill on the House floor, even though it will have to pass with a majority of Democratic votes and, likely, a minority of Republicans.
The rank-and-file, by and large, is also quickly accepting the eventual end game. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) told “Morning Joe” on Wednesday that the Senate legislation will pass the House. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) said in a statement that “it’s time to face reality.”
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