Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Democrats Feel the Short End of the Stick

Tom Williams/Roll Call
From left: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam phone members of their Conference from Cantor's office to see how they will vote before the debt limit vote in the House.

But with moderate Democrats joining Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and other leaders backing the measure however reluctantly the anxiety about the outcome of the vote dissipated Monday.

As for Republicans, while they faced some opposition from conservatives, they were clearly pleased with Boehner's handling of the situation.

During a closed-door meeting on the deal Monday morning, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) told Boehner: "Due to your commitment and clarity in setting the goals clearly ... for how we were going to move forward with this debate, for the first time in history, we were going to insist on spending cuts, insist once and for all that Washington doesn't have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. And that we were not going to raise taxes," a participant in the meeting said.

During the GOP Conference meeting, Cantor presented Boehner with a gift of two framed Time magazine covers. One was of Boehner from shortly before he took the gavel from Pelosi. The other was of the late Speaker Nicholas Longworth, who also was a Buckeye State Republican.

Longworth was known, in part, for using the Speaker position to punish the GOP's extreme flank at the time known as the Progressives and for working with moderate Republicans and Democrats to pass legislation over his base's objection.

To be sure, a number of conservatives in Boehner's Conference ultimately refused to back the agreement. And outside activists including Heritage Action for America and the Club for Growth, came out against the bill. Other influential groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Tax Reform, strongly supported the deal and provided Members political cover to vote "yes."

Support for the agreement in the Senate ­ where a final vote is scheduled for today was stronger among its Democrats than in the House, but only marginally.

While they will make up the bulk of the votes for the deal in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) Conference was clearly not enamored with the agreement that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shepherded in the final stages this weekend.

Liberals worried the cuts were too deep and lamented the lack of any revenues, while conservatives wanted even deeper cuts and, at the same time, are nervous about a trigger that could slash defense spending.

"I feel like I've just met with my doctor, and he's told me what I need to do is diet and exercise," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who added that she is leaning toward voting for it but isn't happy about doing so.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) predicted a majority of Democrats will back the deal because defaulting is simply unacceptable.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a co-founder of the Senate's bipartisan "gang of six," which proposed a much more ambitious $3.7 trillion plan, said it "doesn't get us to the core problem" but that he is inclined to support it.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said he was disappointed at the cuts and the lack of taxes in the deal.

"There will never be a long-term solution until we have revenue," he said. And the deal isn't going to do anything to put people back to work, he added.

And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ripped the package because nothing would come from the wealthy or from corporations.

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