UPDATE II - The House has passed a "clean" debt ceiling hike, with 28 Republicans joining virtually all Democrats to advance the measure. The vast majority of the GOP caucus voted 'no:'
Clean debt ceiling passes House. Receives 28 GOP & 193 Dem "aye" votes. Two Dems vote no. Tally stands at 221 - 201 for passage.— David M. Drucker (@DavidMDrucker) February 11, 2014
Also, this is absolutely true:
Every Dem fundraiser, activist and media toady was licking their lips and wanting a replay of this chart. pic.twitter.com/XwPh6ZgpSj— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) February 11, 2014
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., told the Washington Post Wednesday, “There is a pragmatism here…You’ve got to know when to hold them and when to fold them. My assessment is that most of us don’t think it’s the time to fight.” Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, suggested that the best route for the party is to let Democrats bear the brunt of the responsibility in extending borrowing authority, and also the brunt of the blame.
Those comments come from the right flank of the party, not the squishy centrists. Perhaps chastened by the political fallout of last fall's government shutdown, the GOP seems to have moved away from giving Democrats oxygen to take the spotlight off of, say, the sputtering mess that is Obamacare. The new sentiment: "Let the Dems pass this thing, vote 'no' en masse (for the most part), then go back to hammering them on the 2014 issues that benefit us." And so, a clean hike it shall be:
House Republican leaders told members Tuesday morning that it is clear their latest attempt at seeking a concession in the debt ceiling debate will not attract enough support, so they will be bringing up a "clean" debt limit bill Wednesday, according to several GOP people inside their Tuesday morning huddle. The move would likely avert a last-minute showdown over the debt ceiling -- provided Republicans can find enough votes to pass the bill. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has given Congress a Feb. 27 deadline to raise the debt ceiling, but recent debates have all gone down to the wire, with Republicans demanding spending cuts or other concessions.
Boehner will vote for clean hike, Cole says it'll be tough to get 17 more Rs, but thinks GOP can get there...— Robert Costa (@costareports) February 11, 2014
What happens if Democrats play games with the vote, forcing Republican leadership to extract as many votes from their members as possible? Pelosi's crew has employed such a gambit on budgetary matters before. Also, can Pelosi and Hoyer necessarily count on all of their members voting for a clean debt-ceiling hike? Republicans will surely attack them for it on the campaign trail, and Democrats are already perceived (rightly) as the party of expanding government debt. If Boehner might struggle marshaling fewer than two dozen votes for this thing, what happens if the magic number creeps higher? Tune in tomorrow to find out. Meanwhile, the House Speaker is doing his darndest to put on a happy face as his caucus once again disintegrates:
Boehner sang "zippidee doo da... Plenty of sunshine coming my way" as he left press conference. No joke.— Robert Costa (@costareports) February 11, 2014
Here's hoping there's video of that.
DEBT DRAMA LIKELY TO END TONIGHT, House GOP schedules evening vote, enough Rs likely there to pass, per whip sources...— Robert Costa (@costareports) February 11, 2014
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography