House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) delivered a blunt message to the Republican Conference Tuesday morning: Quit the “grumbling” and “whining” and come together to rally behind Speaker John Boehner to pass his debt ceiling plan.
So far, only a handful of Republican members—Jason Chaffetz, Jim Jordan and Tim Huelskamp—have actually come out against John Boehner's debt limit plan, but with unified Democratic opposition, the House GOP leadership can't afford to lose more than about twenty if they want his plan to pass. With the Heritage Foundation's political arm coming out against Boehner's plan, he can't afford to lose any momentum, thus Cantor's full court press, which appears to be paying off at least with some members:
Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), himself still not a yes vote, said leadership appeared to be winning members over. [...] Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he was concerned over the size of the cut to 2012 spending and could vote no. [...] But Flake said he saw momentum building in the room. Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said he was supportive because the risks involved with exceeding the debt ceiling after Aug. 2 are so great and the Boehner plan is “sufficient.”
Obviously if Boehner's plan doesn't clear the House, it'd be a huge embarrassment, but even if it does pass, it's dead in the Senate. The key problem is that even though it cuts $1.2 trillion in spending, it would only guarantee a six-month debt limit extension. Boehner would make extending the debt limit until 2013 contingent on Congressional approval of $1.8 trillion in cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Harry Reid's plan has no such contingency, though it contains the same $1.2 trillion spending cut level. Republicans may try to block Reid's plan in the Senate or in the House, but if they do, the thing that they'll be fighting for is that $1.8 trillion cut to entitlements. As long as Democrats want to win that fight, it's a fight they can and should be able to win.
Update: Before the meeting, Jim Jordan told reporters Boehner didn't have the votes:
One of the most influential conservatives in Congress says he's confident his own Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will lack the votes to pass his plan to raise the debt limit in the House of Representatives. [...] "I am confident as of this morning that there are not 218 Republicans in support of the plan," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told reporters at a Tuesday morning press briefing.
It doesn't really matter whether Boehner's plan gets out of the House; it's going nowhere in the Senate. But it would be that much more embarrassing for Boehner if it does fail to pass.
Update: Here's a fourth member to go on record as a no vote, at least for now: Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL). (If you've seen other members saying they'll vote no, drop a comment or send a message.)
Update: Club for Growth urges Republicans to reject the Boehner plan.
Update: Michele Bachmann is also a no vote.