Are House Democrats finally figuring out who their friends are?:
Boehner, Cantor In Big Trouble After Big CR Defeat, by Stan Collender: House Democrats last night didn't do what they have done so many times before since the 2010 election: they didn't provide the House leadership with the votes it needed to pass a budget bill.
A combination (you can't really refer to it as a "coalition" because they weren't working together) of tea party Republicans and Democrats voted against the leadership-supported continuing resolution and it went down 195 to 230 with 48 Republicans voting no.
This may have been the worst defeat and biggest rebuke ever for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). A number of House members told me after the vote that both leaders had worked the vote hard but couldn't convince enough (some thought "any" was more correct) to vote for the legislation. Two members even told me that Boehner had gone to the congressional leadership equivalent of DEFCON 1 by moving way beyond twisting arms to threatening GOP members with losing their committee assignments -- almost the ultimate congressional punishment -- if they didn't vote for the bill. Even that didn't work. ...
[N]o matter how they try to spin it today as being the Democrats' fault, this in fact was a huge slap in the face of the GOP leadership by the tea party. It's not the first time the tea partiers have voted against the GOP leadership, but it is the most visible and painful.
The big question now is the one we've been wondering about for some time in analogous budget situations: Where do Boehner and Cantor go from here? ...
The problem ... is that ... moving toward the tea party may not guarantee that the bill passes. On the other hand, moving in the other direction on this one bill very likely will cause the tea party to split permanently with the two House leaders. The tea partiers have been leery of both Boehner and Cantor since the start of the year. In fact, a tea party supporter is running against Boehner in the GOP primary and the Virginia tea party has been threatening to challenge Cantor since before the 2010 election. Working with House Democrats at this point might get the bill passed but might also make it all but impossible for the GOP leadership to lead in 2012, that is, in the months heading into an election where anger about Congress is already at an all-time high.
Steve Benen explains further:
House Republican leaders had a plan and were fairly confident it would work. Last week, the Senate easily passed emergency disaster funding and urged the House to follow suit. This week, House GOP leaders decided to respond by thumbing their noses at the Senate, including disaster aid in a larger spending bill, offsetting the costs by slashing a clean-energy program, and would tell the Senate to pass the bill or they’d shutdown the government.
All they had to do was pass the larger measure, called a “continuing resolution” (CR), which would keep the government running, and would set the stage for another showdown. Boehner, Cantor, and company thought they had the votes. They didn’t. ... It wasn’t especially close...
At this point, House Republican leaders have a decision to make. They can:
1. Give up on holding disaster aid hostage, put the Senate’s FEMA bill in the CR, and pass it. The bill would then sail through the Senate and avoid a shutdown, but it would further weaken Boehner’s leadership.
2. Abandon the deal Boehner struck with Democrats last month, cut more spending, and pick up votes from the far-right flank. The Senate would reject this immediately, making a shutdown almost unavoidable. The Speaker’s word would become useless, but the right would be happy.
3. Find some different offsets to pay for disaster relief, which some Dems may find acceptable.
4. Remove disaster aid from the CR altogether, and take the issue up as a separate legislative debate.
A decision will have to be made fairly quickly — the deadline is a week from tomorrow, and Congress is supposed to be out next week.
We could hope that they'd put people before politics, but as the unemployed can tell us, that's not going to happen.