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The House of Representatives has passed the Budget Control Act proposed by their Speaker, John Boehner (R-OH), by a vote of 218-210.
The bill passed without any support from the Democrats and, despite an intensive lobbying effort by Boehner and the rest of the House GOP leadership, twenty-two Republicans broke ranks to vote against it as well.
Speaking in support of his bill, Boehner said that he “stuck my neck out a mile trying to get an agreement with the president of the United States. I stuck my neck out a mile. And I put revenues on the table in order to try to come to an agreement to avert us being where we are.”
“But a lot of people in this town can never say yes. This house has acted and it is time for this administration to put something on the table, tell us where you are,” he continued.
The House was originally supposed to vote on the bill last Thursday, but Boehner abruptly postponed the vote at the last minute when it became apparent that he did not have enough support. Another round of intensive arm-twisting ensued, and Boehner agreed to tweak the bill to make it more palatable to the Tea Party faction of his caucus.
The original bill called for a $900 billion increase in the debt ceiling and spending cuts worth $917 billion. This increase would only tide the government over until 2012, at which point the issue would have to be revisited. However, Boehner’s legislation contained provisions for a bipartisan committee to come up with further spending cuts, at which point the debt ceiling could be raised again. As a result of pressure from the Tea Partiers, Boehner agreed to a further amendment that would require Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and send it to the states for ratification before the debt ceiling could be raised a second time.
Once the bill arrived in the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) moved to ‘table’ (i.e. kill) it. That motion was agreed to by a vote of 59-41 that saw several Republican senators join the Democrats in opposing Boehner’s plan. Now the Senate will likely turn its attention to Reid’s own proposal to solve the debt ceiling crisis, with a final vote likely to occur sometime during the early hours of Sunday morning. But it is almost certain to receive a chilly welcome from the House, and, with only days to go before the August 2nd deadline, a solution to the debt crisis seems as remote as ever.
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