The status of Speaker of the House John Boehner’s debt limit plan was up in the air after he failed to get enough votes for passage Thursday night.
After a long night of whip counts and negotiations, the night ended with Republicans politically weaker, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bolstered enough to move with his own proposal.
On Friday morning, that’s exactly what the Majority Leader did, announcing that he is going to start moving his proposal through the upper chamber. Reid described his bill as “the last train,” but also said he has asked Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to back his plan and bring his own suggestions to the table.
“It’s really hard to comprehend the confusion that they’ve had over there,” said Reid at a press conference Friday morning, referring to the House. “It’s really time that they legislate. As we know, they’re having trouble doing that.”
According to one Senate source, Reid is expected to file cloture on his plan sometime Friday, which will start the 30-hour clock and set up a vote for late Saturday.
But Boehner isn’t giving up on his plan. On Friday, he added a provision that makes a second debt limit increase conditional on passage and ratification of a balanced budget amendment. A vote for the Speaker’s plan is now scheduled Friday evening between 5:45 and 6 p.m.
At the press conference with Reid, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, slammed the progress in the House and the “extreme” wing of the GOP caucus.
“To win the last hold-outs on the Tea Party, he had to agree to sign a historic change. It’s not enough that they’re willing to hold the economy hostage,” he said, adding that the balanced budget requirement is the “most outrageous suggestion I’ve heard.”
UPDATE: Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, one of the staunchest hold-outs on Boehner’s plan, now says he will vote yes. What did it for Flake was Boehner’s addition that a second debt ceiling increase would be tied to passage of a balanced budget amendment. Boehner’s plan is now expected to pass the House.