The Congressional debt ceiling circus rolls on today, though it appears the House's human projectile cannon to send a bill to the Senate has jammed. Last night the South Carolina Insurrection II helped keep House Speaker John Boehner's two-step debt ceiling hike off the floor. This morning, the House GOP gathered again in the bowels of the Capitol to hash out another plan. Boehner's "fix" is to predicate the second debt ceiling hike, which would most likely occur early next year, on both the House and the Senate passing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, in addition to all those spending cuts.
This apparently hewed closely enough to the "Cut Cap and Balance" plan passed by the House a couple weeks ago to bring in some of the speaker's more recalcitrant members. (Some great color on yesterday's lobbying in this Washington Post story.) But we won't know until if and when there's a vote.
Pennsylvania's Republicans have never been in doubt, and all are backing Boehner. But emerging from the morning caucus meeting, two local members showed their divergent personalities.
Butler Rep. Mike Kelly looked chipper and predicted victory.
"It’s getting better all the time," he said. "So we’re going to get something done today. I feel pretty confident about that."
When asked whether his Notre Dame speech yesterday helped anything, Kelly replied, "I don't know. It helped me!"
Since his vote was already locked down, what did he do last night? Kelly said he wrote correspondence and caught up with old teammates and family back home, and called it a "good night."
A weary Upper St. Clair Rep. Tim Murphy couldn't say the same. Asked what he thought of the last night's circus he said, "I don’t want to comment on other members. People are who they are. This is a microcosm of America."
He continued with some words that showed the difference between how a child psychologist and a football coach approach these things.
"My advice to colleagues is to stay focused," he said. "Take a look at your voting card and take a look at your family picture and decide, because there are things that are more important in our hearts, and that’s understanding the people that we serve and the families that [we have]. We need to not panic, not get anxious. Yes, it’s a stressful time. It’s stressful times for America. And we need to stay focused on doing the important thing."
Of course, whatever they pass won't get anywhere in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid is saying he will move forward with a plan today that is still being tweaked to earn Republican support.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the details were still being finalized, but in discussions he and his fellow Democrats were having with Republicans, he senses a real willingness to deal."A lot of Republicans have said they don’t want a repeat of what’s happening in the House," he said.