As predicted here earlier today, the Hill is reporting that Boehner has reached a deal with the Tea Party members in the Republican House caucus in order to get some budget deal through the House and on to the Senate. So, I assume, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell will finalize an agreement that will become law.
According to the report, the members who were opposed have had their votes changed by the inclusion of a promise to consider a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA). This is a perfect example of adding something to a bill when everyone with an IQ in double or triple digits knows that that will not be in the final legislation. There is no way that the BBA could ever meet the constitutional requirement to get through either house on its own, so we need have no fear that it will ever become part of that hallowed document. It’s merely something so that the legislators can show constituents that they haven’t broken their word.
Here’s what will happen, sports fans. The House must get something through it so that the Senate can be allowed to introduce amendments to it, or its own compromise, in lieu of the bill that was passed. Then, the Senate will pass its own version with probably 61 votes. The new bill, which has now taken out the Balanced Budget Amendment and extended the amount of time that it will cover, will then be passed by voice vote in the House. Obama then signs the bill. Nobody’s vote will be on record in the House for passing the Senate bill, so everyone has cover.
Boehner’s problem all along was this: typically, a Speaker has two threats that he can exert in a Whipped vote. He can threaten to eliminate pork, he can threaten to remove party support in re-election or he can threaten the offending legislator with committee assignments. So, they could be removed from a powerful committee, such as the Rules Committee (or one of half dozen or so others that are considered plum assignments) or not be given a powerful committee assignment when one opens up. None of these had much value to some of those in opposition. They campaigned based on an opposition to pork barrel projects; they were, in many cases, elected despite opposition from the party leadership in their district or state, and they don’t care much about staying in Congress for a number of decades, when their seniority would actually give them power on committees.
So, his problem was trying to get people to vote for something, without offering anything of real value in return. It’s good that this was what he came up with. Now we can go on to our next contrived crisis while our economy continues to collapse.