Getting to “Yes”

As Republican leadership gave one final pre-vote press conference, I walked to the House and ran into Rep. James Clyburn. How many Democrats did he think would vote for the debt deal? Some Democrats who had opposed prior votes, like Chakka Fattah and Rob Andrews, were moving toward yes.

“You think they need us?” he asked. “Why would they be bringing it up for a vote if they were worried?”

Right. Republicans don’t sound worried. The House will move first and try to pass this bill – a sign of how Republicans want to lock this down before conservative opposition builds, and a sign that they can win. The vote could be as soon as 6:30. In the last hour, the Speaker met with the members of the Armed Services Committee to calm the last nerves about defense cuts, and at his presser, he hinted that the job was done. The whole presser felt less like the hard sell of a compromise, more like a victory lap that could please Republican holdouts.

“The value of this Republican majority has been to change this culture,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The spending caps in the deal were more than Republicans had ever been able to get. “This gets us 2/3 of the discretionary spending cuts we were looking for in our budget.”

Boehner got a question about the opposition his plan had engendered from the GOP’s presidential frontrunners, Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney. He was completely dismissve.

“I’ve got a big job to do here,” said Boehner. “Those running for president have their own ambitions.”