Some Republicans see lost leverage after reboot of Boehner debt ceiling plan

While the changes Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is making to his debt-limit plan might win him enough votes to pass it, not all House Republicans are happy with the revisions.

Some members emerged from a Friday morning conference meeting acknowledging the House GOP had given up valuable leverage to Senate Democrats in the final days before an Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling by scrapping a vote on the Speaker’s original proposal and moving to legislation that has no chance of passing in the upper chamber.

House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.), a veteran lawmaker serving his 16th term, acknowledged Friday there’s no chance that the new Boehner measure will emerge unscathed from the Senate.

{mosads}“We are trying to get to a bipartisan agreement with the action we take today,” he said. “This is not going to be the final product.”

Despite vows by the Senate to defeat Boehner’s plan, many House Republicans, including Boehner, had thought a strong vote on the Speaker’s initial debt measure would have forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to accept the plan and send it along to President Obama.

Freshman Rep. Steve Womack (Ark.) said the new version, which conditions a second debt-limit hike on congressional passage of a balanced-budget amendment, “gives much more power to the Senate.”

“We burned a time-out yesterday,” Womack said, adopting a football metaphor. “We didn’t have enough players on the field. Period.

“The other side is going to automatically feel like they’ve got a lot more power and influence in this process right now,” he said. “I think it’s an understandable conclusion that a lot of people can make, that we’ve weakened our position a little bit. Can we be back on the offense? I think we will do everything we can to do that today.”

Womack said he still plans to vote yes on the legislation.

Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), a close Boehner ally, said there was an acknowledgment within the conference that the new bill had no chance of being signed into law. “The fact of the matter is, because of the dust-up yesterday, we’ve lost some leverage,” he said after Friday’s conference meeting. “You could say it’s remote, but there was a chance that the package yesterday, if it had been successfully voted out, would have been adopted by the Senate and signed by the president. I think everybody acknowledges that’s not going to happen with this piece of legislation.”

“I don’t think anyone thinks this bill is going to be passed, as is, by the Senate,” LaTourette added. “It’s going to come back to us, and we’ll take a look at it.”

Asked if the last 24 hours would provide a lesson to freshman Republicans, LaTourette replied: “If it was a lesson, I don’t know if any of the people hanging out learned it.”

Womack said Republicans expected Senate legislation to come back to the House by Monday, with little time remaining before the Aug. 2 deadline. “By then, the sands in the hour glass will be running away from us,” he said.

Tags Boehner Harry Reid John Boehner Steve Womack

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