Update: Republican leaders on Friday offered to include an addition to the bill requiring a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment. That could be the ticket to swing enough GOP votes to pass the bill in the House.
In a major blow to House Speaker John Boehner, the Republican Whip office postponed the vote on a debt ceiling package yet again late Thursday night due to a lack of support within the caucus. The speaker is holding a closed-door meeting with his defiant party members this morning, urging them to back the bill.
The House originally intended to vote on the measure early this week, but the vote was canceled when conservative House members complained that Boehner's plan to raise the debt ceiling for six months--which would slow the growth of government spending by about $900 billion over a decade--did not meet their demands. Boehner revamped the bill by adding even more cuts, and announced a new vote scheduled tentatively for Thursday morning.
But even with the new details of the bill, House members continued to push back.
During a Republican members-only meeting on Capitol Hill Thursday, Boehner announced to the caucus that he didn't have the votes yet. Still, he affirmed that they would get it passed "today."
Throughout the day, Boehner called House members into his office one by one for a series of personal arm-twisting sessions. But after several of these meetings, Republicans filed out of Boehner's office to announce they were standing firm in their opposition. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert boldly proclaimed he was a "bloody, beaten down no" on Boehner's plan. (When the newest details of Boehner's plan emerged the next day, however, Goehmer told Fox Business that he "may be able" to vote for it.) A few members even said they were heading directly to the Capitol chapel to pray after their meetings.
With the clock ticking toward the scheduled vote time around 6:00 p.m., Republican leaders still had not secured the few defectors needed to pull it off. Just moments before the bill was to be brought to the floor, Republicans yanked it and said they would hold another vote later that night.
So again, through the night, GOP House leaders pushed their members for support.
In the Democratic-controlled Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid kept his own members waiting in the wings for the House to vote. Reid said that his chamber would vote to kill the Boehner bill immediately after it passed the House. (Reid announced Friday morning that instead of waiting on the House, the Senate would vote on his debt ceiling package, which includes fewer cuts but would allow enough money to keep the limit raised until 2013.)
But despite the late-night scrambling, they still couldn't convince enough Republicans to support the speaker. Just before 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Republicans announced they were giving up for the day and would hold the vote on Friday instead.
Republican aides confirmed late Thursday night they were several votes shy of the 218 needed to get it passed.
It is still not clear if Republicans will succeed in getting it done today. House leaders announced earlier this week that they will keep the chambers in session through the weekend.
According to the Treasury Department, Congress must raise the debt ceiling by Tuesday, Aug. 2nd or the nation could risk defaulting on its debt.