House conservatives confident Boehner plan doesn’t have the votes to pass

House conservatives are confident that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) does not have the votes at present to pass his debt-ceiling plan, and they are pushing for changes to it.

“I am confident that as of this morning that there are not 218 Republicans in support of the plan,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio), who said he is voting against the plan.

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“My understanding is that it doesn’t right now. It doesn’t mean that Speaker Boehner couldn’t make some adjustments and we couldn’t get there,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

Jordan and Gohmert spoke after a press conference where they promoted a bill to prioritize bond payments, Social Security and military pay in case the U.S. passes Aug. 2 without a debt-ceiling increase.

Boehner has been pushing hard for 218 Republican votes for his two-step debt-ceiling plan, which would impose $1.2 trillion in discretionary cuts over 10 years in exchange for a $900 billion, six-month increase in the debt ceiling and condition a second increase on further cuts being found by a joint congressional committee.

Because of two House vacancies, Boehner would technically need 217 votes instead of 218.

Gohmert, like others in the caucus, is concerned that the $6 billion cut to 2012 spending does not go deep enough.

Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) said that he is still studying the Boehner plan, and does not like the size of the upfront cuts. He said it reminds him of the battle over 2011 spending where the size of the upfront cuts were not deep enough for many members of his party.

During a Tuesday caucus meeting, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told caucus members to stop “whining” and get behind the Speaker’s plan.

“I have got a tremendous amount of respect for Leader Cantor, but I’m not whining. I am just stating the facts,” Landry said when asked to react to the comment.

Landry said it was unclear if the vote on the Boehner plan was still on for tomorrow. 

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), a close friend of the speaker, however insisted that Boehner does have the votes and that the bill could pass Wednesday without Democrat support.

He said there will be no changes to the legislation to appease holdouts but added that leadership would hold a Thursday vote on a balanced budget amendment to win support.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), vice chairman of the study committee, would not say whether he would support the Boehner bill in its current form. “Right now I’m still expressing my concerns to the leadership on the bill,” he told reporters. “We have enough concerns to express those to leadership, and leadership, I think, is hearing those concerns from the conference right now.”

He suggested the legislation could be changed before it reaches the floor. A Boehner spokesman did not respond immediately when asked if revisions were under consideration.

Garrett dismissed Cantor’s exhortation to Republicans in the meeting, pointing to conservatives who held a press conference to urge the Obama administration to prioritize payments to debt holders, the military and Social Security recipients if the debt ceiling is not raised in time.

“As you saw there, I don’t think any of the members there were grumbling or whining,” Garrett said.

“Anything but whining — we’re supportive of the leader, of the Speaker and his trying to deal with the president who will not give him a plan.”

Garrett added: “We’re supporting [Cantor] in every way we can and hope that he’s able to continue that fight on behalf not just of us but of the American public.”

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said he was leaning "no" on the Boehner bill.

Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) said he has not reviewed the fine print on the plan, but that he has no problem with voting against the Boehner plan if it is not up to his standards. 

Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) said he is voting against the plan.


—This story was posted at 12:33 p.m. and has been updated.