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Republicans Turn Debt Limit Bill Back Into Cut, Cap and Balance Act

This is pretty incredible. After calling his debt limit plan the result of a bipartisan compromise, House Speaker John Boehner plans to alter the bill by turning it back into the Cut, Cap and Balance Act.

Boehner could not secure the votes for passage on his plan last night. There was talk that the Pell grant spending (which is offset by cuts to higher education loans elsewhere) was the bone of contention. But now we see it was the only compromise in the bill. The major change between CC&B and what he tried to pass last night was that it merely offered a symbolic vote on a balanced budget amendment by October of this year in both houses of Congress. That’s what the hardcore tea partiers objected to. You can get a flavor for that, if you can decipher it, here.

So Boehner is changing the bill back to where it was. Now, the debt limit would be increased by $900 billion with a cut and a cap in the near term. But in order to secure the second tranche of the debt limit increase, the House and Senate would have to pass a balanced budget amendment and send it to the states. This makes Boehner’s plan fundamentally the same bill that failed in the Senate two weeks ago.

So Republicans cannot pass anything out of their chamber that can pass the Senate. And the House Speaker has had no conversations with the minority leadership to see if there’s a way they can pass something with a bipartisan set of votes. The President is actually right that this would be the only way to pass anything that avoids a default on payment obligations.

I think a lot of people didn’t think we’d get to this point. But we’re there.

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David Dayen

David Dayen