Obama dares Boehner to hold vote on 'clean' funding bill

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Republicans are rejecting all Democratic efforts to pass a “clean” spending bill that would reopen the government.

President Obama dared Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Monday to prove there aren’t enough votes in the House to pass a clean measure.


“The House should hold that vote today,” Obama said during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday. “If Republicans and Speaker Boehner are saying there are not enough votes, they should prove it.”

The move is in response to Boehner’s assertion Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that there aren’t enough votes in the House to pass a government funding bill without additional concessions to Republicans, and it is meant to raise public pressure on the Speaker to end the shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday accused Boehner of being “afraid” to vote on a clean bill.

Obama said his “very strong suspicion” is that “there are enough votes there.”

“Hold a vote. Call a vote right now, and let’s see what happens,” he said.

Boehner has no plans to schedule that vote. He has also appeased restless centrists in his conference, who last week were mulling procedural steps to undercut their Speaker.


For example, many of these members — who have said they are open to supporting a clean government funding bill — are not interested in pushing a vote on such a measure.

House Democrats have launched a discharge petition that would force a vote on legislation to end the government shutdown. That move requires 218 signatures to compel a roll call vote, and it looks unlikely to happen any time soon.

The Hill on Monday contacted the more than two dozen House Republicans who publicly favor, or who have said they would consider voting for, a clean bill. Not one said they would join forces with the Democrats. The Hill used a list compiled by The Washington Post.

Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Lou Barletta (Pa.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Devin Nunes (Calif.), Mike Simpson (Idaho), Dennis Ross (Fla.), Rob Wittman (Va.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Randy Forbes (Va.), Pete King (N.Y.) and Tim Griffin (Ark.) stated clearly they would not sign the petition.

A GOP aide said Forbes never supported a clean continuing resolution, disputing a recent media report on the issue. The staffer stressed Forbes doesn’t back the Senate-passed bill.

In an email, Griffin said, “Instead of negotiating in good faith, House Democrats are playing political games with a discharge petition. They are following the playbook of President Obama and Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid, who wanted a government shutdown for political purposes.”

Simpson spokeswoman Nikki Watts said, “The answer is ‘absolutely not.’ ”

Barletta spokesman Tim Murtaugh said, “The congressman would not support a discharge petition. It’s parliamentary gamesmanship which stands no chance of succeeding.”

King made similar remarks over the weekend on “Fox News Sunday.”

Dent said on CNN he would not sign the discharge petition, saying the process takes too long.

But others kept the door open.

Philip Minardi, a spokesman for Rep. Erik Paulsen, said the Minnesota Republican would “consider anything that comes across his desk.”


Kori Walter, press secretary for Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), said, “The congressman is focused on working with his House colleagues on a bipartisan solution to get the federal government [to] reopen and working for taxpayers again well in advance of any discharge petition arriving on the House floor for a vote.”

These House centrists have mulled various procedural options to end the shutdown, which is now in its seventh day. If they defected on a GOP funding bill or on a rule to bring a measure to the floor, it would fail, assuming all Democrats voted no.

House GOP leaders strongly discourage their members from signing discharge petitions, which is seen as undercutting their authority.

Republican members who had not commented at press time for this article include Reps. Rodney Davis (Ill.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Leonard Lance (N.J.), Pat Meehan (Pa.), Scott Rigell (Va.), Jon Runyan (N.J.), Frank Wolf (Va.), Steve Womack (Ark.) and Bill Young (Fla.).

All but three House Democrats have signed the discharge petition. The holdouts are Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.).

Even if Democrats collect the required signatures soon, they would have to wait until the spending bill had spent the required time in committee. That doesn’t happen until next week at the earliest.


White House press secretary Jay Carney said Friday he was unaware of the “specific, arcane procedural rules” governing the House but did not rule out White House backing of a discharge petition.

Mike Lillis, Mario Trujillo, Haley Bissegger, Patrick Mortiere and Julian Notaro contributed.

This story was posted at 12:36 p.m. and updated at 1:27 p.m. and 7:31 p.m.