Time Ticks Down As Boehner, House Prepare Another Vote To Nowhere

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Speaker of the House John Boehner’s job is on the line as the House of Representatives prepares a vote on his plan to raise the debt limit today.”His being Speaker is clearly at stake here,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Thursday night on Fox News.

After his spectacular failure to corral the 216 votes for his bill, Boehner is modifying it — likely to include stronger language calling for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and perhaps cuts to Pell grants for college students.

While this “tweaking” may help Boehner bring over the two or three votes he needs to pass his debt limit plan, it also makes it more dissimilar to the on pushed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — and makes the ultimate compromise more difficult.

After the Boehner plan passes the House (if it can get that far) it will be, in the words of Reid, “dead on arrival” in he Senate, where lawmakers were waiting up late last night for the chance to put the kibosh on his plan. President Obama has also threatened a veto, though his advisors call it a “moot point” because it will never get out of the Senate.

Reid’s own plan would be amended into the Boehner bill after it failed, so that it could get expedited consideration in the House. If the House can’t act today, Reid may have no choice but to set a vote on his plan first, or rule out hope that Congress can meet the August 2nd deadline.

Last night’s collapse may make it easier for Reid’s plan to find support in the Senate, where lawmakers are clearly frustrated by the chaos in the lower chamber.

Even tea-party Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a supporter of neither plan, could see that neither plan alone would be the ultimate solution to the debt limit, telling Fox News it is “some amalgamation of the Boehner plan and the Reid plan.”

Reid hasn’t released his proposal publicly — aside from its ‘score’ from the Congressional Bugdet Office — because he is still meeting with Republicans to modify his plan to make it more to their liking.

Among the items he is considering including are stronger spending cut “triggers” that would take effect in the event the bipartisan fiscal committee stalemated. This would replace Boehner’s demand for a second vote to raise the debt limit as an incentive for more deficit reduction.

But this compromise between the Boehner and Reid plans may be harder to achieve than ever, as Boehner must now save face after having egg so embarrassingly splattered on it.

He will likely get to 216 votes today, but it won’t be easy, and it will make the inevitable negotiations this weekend that much more difficult — and there really isn’t much time to spare.

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