After a full day of chaos and uncertainty on the hill and battles among strange bedfellows, House conservatives and Pelosi vs. Boehner and Obama, the spending bill narrowly passes in the House.
With Obama’s Help, House Passes Boehner’s Amnesty-Funding Cromnibus Bill
President Barack Obama bailed out House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday night. After the House embarrassed Boehner by almost killing his 1,774-page $1.1 trillion cromnibus bill on a purely procedural vote earlier in the day, House Democrats pitched in to provide the votes to pass it.
“My job tonight is to say thank you and Merry Christmas,” Boehner said in a rare floor appearance after the measure barely passed the House 219-206 after a day of pure chaos in Congress.
Earlier in the day, every Democrat who voted on the rule voted against it. That nearly derailed the bill, as at one point there were enough Republicans voting against the rule to kill it. Then Reps. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) and Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) switched their votes from nays to yeas on the rule, allowing the House to take up the cromnibus bill after a 214-212 vote. The presiding officer of the House had kept that vote open past the time allotted for the vote to twist arms of those two and more, and once they broke enough members to pass the rule they passed the bill.
It’s worth noting that as the full House debated the rule, Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) was AWOL. Normally the chairman of the Rules Committee will champion a bill on the floor while debating against the Rules Committee’s ranking member, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY). Slaughter showed up for the debate, but since Sessions disappeared amid massive criticism for his role in enabling this bill’s passage, Republicans needed to field Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)—a staunch ally of Boehner’s—to debate Slaughter.
After the rule passed, the full House debated the cromnibus bill for about an hour—then went into an unexpected several-hour-long recess from shortly after 2 p.m. until right about 9 p.m. as the fate of the final passage was in jeopardy. During this time, it was clear Boehner didn’t have the votes for final passage as about 50 or 60 Republicans were planning to vote against the bill—and the Democrats were in full revolt.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Financial Services Committee ranking member Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) worked to lead a revolt among House Democrats—and it became unclear whether Boehner would get the 50-plus Democratic votes he needed to pass this bill.
In came President Barack Obama, who along with Vice President Joe Biden and other top White House officials worked the phones with Congressional Democrats to pressure them into voting for the bill. Obama sent White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to the Capitol to persuade Democrats in a closed-door conference meeting into voting for the bill.