Nancy Pelosi (Ryan Beiler/Dreamstime.com)
PELOSI READY TO HELP BOEHNER AS SOON AS HIS COALITION IMPLODES - Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is closely watching the House GOP conference for signs of the fissure that threatens to shatter Speaker John Boehner's coalition. "I had followed the debate very carefully on [the previous spending bill] and the 200 amendments. The newer members are about money, the more senior members are about riders," said Pelosi in a briefing with reporters and bloggers on the Hill today. "I really don't know what the speaker will do in terms of getting the votes within his own caucus. I don't know. I don't know that he knows." But Democrats don't plan to help Boehner keep it together, despite some Democratic support on yesterday's free vote to approve a three-week spending bill. "Many of the people who voted for the CR on the Democratic side did it just to move it along, but many of them said [Republicans are] going to have to...work with us on their side to pass it or have a better bill for us to be helping them." But once Boehner is need of help and ready to jettison the Tea Party, Pelosi will be there. "I'm the last one to ask about what goes on in their conference, but I do stand ready to help keep government open," she said.
I know it may seem hard to believe, but Democrats are actually in a position of power here. John Boehner isn't dumb enough to believe the GOP could escape a government shutdown unscathed, but at the same time, such a large portion of his caucus actually want a government shutdown that the only way he can get a funding bill passed that will get through the Senate and to President Obama's desk is by working with House Democrats. So far, it seems as though Boehner understands the situation. Of course, it's always possible that he'll might choose a government shutdown over compromising with Democrats—he really might be that afraid of tea party Republicans. But the choice his his.
Update: NYT's Carl Hulse on the choice faced by Boehner.