A procedural vote governing the rules for debate on the $1.1 trillion spending bill negotiated between House Republican Leaders and Senate Democrats survived by a single vote of 214-212 Thursday morning – only after some arm-twisting among rank-and-file republicans.
The narrow victory calls into question House Speaker John Boehner’s ability to win final passage of the bill from votes within his own caucus before midnight tonight’s deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
The razor thin victory on the spending bill, negotiated in secret with Senate Democrats following Election Day, has already riled conservatives who wonder why Boehner is so determined to cut a deal now rather than wait until after the swearing in of the new Congress on January 2.
By then, republicans will pad their House majority by an additional 12 seats while taking over the Senate by 54-46 seats – more than enough votes to stop President Barack Obama’s “pen and phone” adventures in executive overreach on such issues as illegal immigrant amnesty, changes to the ObamaCare law and other partisan issues.
Some believe that is exactly what Boehner is trying to avoid.
If he can barely muster the one vote he needed to keep the $1.1 trillion spending bill alive in the current House, how difficult will it be in the new House when 12 additional republican members – conservatives carried to victory by Tea Party activists and independent voters – take the oath of office just weeks from today?
The challenge to passage doesn’t end there.
Besides recalcitrant republicans, congressional democrats have some headaches of their own – starting with pressure from the White House to back the bill. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor to attack those parts of the bill that would relax government regulations on business.
Calling the bill “a ransom” and “blackmail”, Pelosi was not content with the measures $1.1 trillion price tag that fully funds ObamaCare, executive amnesty and raising of the debt limit.
While saying she was resigned to “whatever members choose to do” on the bill, she urged her fellow Democrats to vote against the legislation because it would weaken rules on business that many say are driving up bottom line costs resulting in downward pressure on job growth.