Votes are there to break shutdown, but not the will
(CNN) — President Barack Obama appeared Tuesday to have enough support in the House to approve legislation to reopen the federal government, which has been partially closed for a week over a bitter policy dispute with Republicans on health care.
All 200 Democrats and 17 Republicans in the House support passing a continuing resolution with no additional legislative strings attached that would reopen the federal government, an ongoing CNN survey of House members shows. The number 217 is significant in that it is the minimum needed for the measure to win approval in the House.
CNN’s vote count appears to bear out what the president said on Monday.
“The truth of the matter is, there are enough Republican and Democratic votes in the House of Representatives right now to end this shutdown immediately with no partisan strings attached,” Obama said.
But this does not mean a vote will happen any time soon, given that these Republicans have not indicated a willingness to try to force Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to bring a continuing resolution with no strings attached to the floor for a vote.
The clean CR is at the center of the dispute between Obama and Republicans, the latter trying to use the government shutdown as a legislative avenue to help defund the president’s health care law. Many House Republicans are demanding that passage of a continuing resolution is contingent on the health care law being delayed – the first step in an effort they hope to use to dismantle it. The president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, have said that the GOP’s efforts are a non-starter.
As is the case with all vote counts, the numbers continually evolve and change by the hour and day.
Still, Boehner has maintained that there are not enough votes in the House to pass a “clean” CR.
“There are not the votes in the House to pass a clean CR,” the speaker said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “The American people expect in Washington, when we have a crisis like this, that the leaders will sit down and have a conversation. I told my members the other day, there may be a back room somewhere, but there’s nobody in it.”
Republican Rep. Charles Dent of Pennsylvania disagreed with the speaker’s assessment. He told CNN on Monday that if the vote were to come to the floor, he believes it would pass.
“I believe a clean CR would pass comfortably,” said Dent. “I’m not here to predict the number, I think it would clear the 217 vote barrier.”
In response, Obama dared Boehner on Monday to prove that he doesn’t have the votes for a clean continuing resolution.
“If Republicans and Speaker Boehner are saying there are not enough votes then they should prove it,” Obama said. “Let the bill go to the floor, and let’s see what happens. Just vote.”
On Monday, as Democrats trumpeted other vote counts that appeared to show there are enough votes in the House to pass a clean government funding bill, a number of lawmakers began to walk back previous statements.”
Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California was one of those lawmakers. After telling Huffington Post and others that he supported a government funding bill with no strings attached, his spokesman said Monday that “that was never the case.”
“He does not support a clean CR, does not support it, does not advocate it,” said Jack Langer, a spokesman for Nunes.
Republicans Leonard Lance of New Jersey and Randy Forbes of Virginia, who other news outlets report have supported a clean government funding bill, told CNN on Monday that they did not back the measure.
“Reports that Randy Forbes supports a ‘clean’ CR are not true,” a Forbes said. “This was misrepresented in a story by the Virginian Pilot (newspaper), which subsequently was picked up by HuffPo and other national outlets – none of which bothered to contact our office to verify.”
Instead, Forbes has introduced legislation that would fund all of the government except Obamcare, the aide said.
Not all Republicans moved away from voting for a government funding bill with no strings attached.
Late on Monday, Republican Rep. David Reichert of Washington said he would “continue to vote for any legislation that keeps the federal government open.”
Other Republican members, like Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, would not confirm a report from the Miami Herald that said the lawmaker would support a clean resolution.
“The president needs to sit down and negotiate with the speaker,” Cesar Gonzalez, a spokesman for Diaz-Balart, said. “In the meantime, the congressman does not think it is wise to negotiate through the press.”
By CNN’s Dan Merica
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