Op-Ed: Senate Dems set to call Boehner's bluff

Posted Oct 7, 2013 by William M. Schmalfeldt
On Sunday, "Speaker of the House" John Boehner told ABC News "This Week" that there just were not enough votes in the House to pass a clean bill to raise the nation's debt limit. The Senate is apparently going to call his bluff.
John Boehner
John Boehner
Talk Radio News Service
In his Washington Post "Plum Line" blog, writer Greg Sargent writes, "Senate Democrats are planning to start the process this week for a Senate vote on a clean debt limit increase, sources tell me – a move that could call the bluff of Republicans in both chambers and force them to take a stand on whether they will allow default and economic destruction if Dems don’t accept their unilateral demands.
The move has the backing of the White House, according to a source familiar with discussions."
This will, as the lawyers say, put Boehner "to his proof."
According to Sargent:
Dems would be challenging Senate GOP moderates to vote for or against averting default and economic havoc outside of any set of conditions House Republicans insist must be attached to any measure raising the debt limit.
Senator John Cornyn is claiming no clean debt limit hike can pass the Senate, but Dems believe there may be at least half a dozen GOP Senators who would be willing to support one. A vote would put that to the test.
The gamesmanship has a melodramatic feel to it. It began with Boeher daring the Democrats to pass a clean bill if they're so smart. The Democrats responded with a tweet by Faiz Shakir, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:
“Will you if we do?”
If the Senate passes a clean CR and sends it to the House, it's almost a certainty that the House will not bring it to the floor. This would allow Democrats to say that Boeher values his speakership ahead of the good faith and credit of the United States and the health of the global economy.
If the Senate cannot pass a clean CR because of a Republican filibuster, Reid could bring a vote to change the Senate rules allowing the CR to pass on a simple majority. This was part of the deal that averted the so-called "nuclear option" earlier this year, with the Senate agreeing to invoke the option in the case of a national emergency, such as a worldwide economic collapse.
The GOP has repeatedly said the debt limit must be raised. They have repeatedly said they would vote to raise the limit. Now, they refuse to make any moves that don't include drastic changes to the Affordable Care Act.
As Sargent writes:
...Republicans are now insisting they must be given a wide range of concessions in exchange for avoiding default. If Republicans vote against or filibuster an outcome they themselves say is necessary to avert economic destruction to the whole country — solely because it doesn’t come with unilateral concessions by Dems attached as a condition — it would throw the fundamental absurdity of the GOP position into even sharper relief.