Under a veto threat, and with some Tea Party Republicans rebelling against their party leadership, House Speaker John Boehner hopes to squeeze out victory today on a revised budget and debt limit bill, with just five days until an Obama Administration deadline for action.
The new GOP plan would cut spending by $917 billion over 10 years, just a touch more than the $851 billion in the original Republican measure, but less than the $1.1 trillion that was promised by Republican leaders.
Still, it is more than the $900 billion increase being offered initially in the debt limit by this GOP plan.
While the original plan from the Speaker would have only cut $1 billion in spending next year, the re-worked plan cuts $22 billion in 2012, $42 billion in 2013, $59 billion in 2014, ultimately leading to a ten year total of $917 billion in savings.
By comparison, the Congressional Budget Office review of the plan from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found it would save $2.2 trillion over ten years.
Reid’s plan reduces spending by $30 billion in 2012, $99 billion in 2013, $156 billion in 2014 and $193 billion in 2015, leading to $2.2 trillion over ten years, which like the GOP plan, was less than Democrats had advertised.
The lackluster budget cutting numbers for Republicans – less than those in the Democratic plan – were not what a number of GOP lawmakers wanted to support, as they resisted intense lobbying by GOP leaders.
“I try to listen very carefully,” Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) told a gaggle of reporters about his sessions with GOP higher-ups. But he said the “strong” pressure wasn’t changing his mind.
“Right now, I’m still a ‘No,'” Gingrey said just off the House floor in the area known as the “Speaker’s Lobby.”
For a second straight day, the Speaker’s Lobby was jammed with reporters trying to figure out what Republicans were leaning for and against the Boehner debt limit plan.
“I’m looking forward to reading the final draft and checking the numbers,” said Freshman GOP Class President Austin Scott, another Georgia Republican who was on the fence.
But even as Scott nervously fiddled with a candy wrapper while doing an interview with me, he sounded like someone who might be leaning in favor of his leadership by the way he answered a question on where the votes stand.
“This Speaker has got a lot more votes than the people who don’t want it to pass say he has,” said Scott, as he stood next to the portraits of a number of legendary Speakers of the past.
Other freshmen Republicans were clearly feeling the pressure over this vote, like two in the highly competitive area of Central Florida, Rep. Sandy Adams and Rep. Bill Posey.
When asked to do a quick interview about where she stood on the debt limit plan, Adams seemed nervous and jumpy, her body language making clear she was not interested in extended discussion about her vote.
Posey, who like Adams was elected last year, darted his way through the Speaker’s Lobby, also saying as little as possible to me for a second straight day on why he was undecided, as the Florida Republican raced back to the House floor after yet another cigarette break on the balcony outside.
But even with a number of Republican members reluctant to support the Boehner bill, it seemed like the momentum had switched in favor of the Speaker by mid-afternoon, though that was more of a gut feeling than anything else.
It is rare for a Speaker to lose these kind of votes, as they often find a way to twist just enough arms for victory.
Nancy Pelosi did it on health care reform and the Cap and Trade bill to name two recent examples where some had been predicting defeat just days before the vote.
There’s no reason it should be any different for John Boehner on Thursday.
But like the great saying indicates, there’s a reason they play the games.
And we’ll see if Republicans can count to 217 in the House.