Cromnibus passes House; uncertain future in Senate

In the end, the outcome on the vote for the continuing resolution to fund the government through next September – known as Cromnibus – wasn't really in doubt.  Speaker of the House John Boehner was always going to be able to twist enough GOP arms to ram the measure through.  Conservative opposition to the bill melted away in the early evening as Boehner applied maximum pressure on his caucus to bring the vote home.

Meanwhile, Democrats were having their own intra-party feud, with the leadership divided over whether to support their own president.  The net result was that barely enough Democrats ended up supporting Cromnibus, and the measure passed 219-206, with 67 Republicans voting against it and only 57 Democrats voting for it.

The Hill:

Democrats objected to changes to the Wall Street reform bill that were included in the 1,600-page bill, and many were unswayed by a last-ditch White House lobbying push that included a visit to the conference by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.

After McDonough left the meeting, several lawmakers said he hadn't appeared to change many minds. 

"It was respectful but skeptical," one source in the room said. "Before he arrived there was considerable annoyance at the White House. Pelosi quieted that agitation to ensure he was treated politely. At the end he thanked the caucus for giving him a fair hearing."  
Conservative Republicans, meanwhile, opposed the bill for not doing more to curtail President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. While 162 Republicans voted for the bill, 67 rejected it.

For much of the afternoon and evening, the bill looked to be at death's door as a government shutdown loomed at midnight.

The bill’s passage, as a result, was a remarkable victory for both Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama, who were able to cobble together the votes for passage.

The so-called “cromnibus” included an omnibus of 11 appropriations bills funding most of the government through September, and a continuing resolution funding the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27.

“This plan was put together after consultation with our members,” Boehner told reporters Thursday morning. “And we worked through this process in a bipartisan, bicameral way.”

He implored his members to back it: “Listen, if we don't get finished today, we're going to be here until Christmas.”

GOP leaders suspended debate on the floor for hours as the White House made a push to win over Democrats.

House Democrats have long-been agitated with the White House and its outreach efforts, but they've largely kept the grumbling behind closed doors and off the record. 

With the arrival of the “cromnibus” debate — and Obama's backing of the package — the frustrations spilled over.

Pelosi, rarely a public critic of the president, minced no words in denouncing the "cromnibus" — and Obama's support for it.

In a floor speech announcing her opposition to the measure, Pelosi said she is "enormously disappointed" with the administration's endorsement.

Hours later, giving closing remarks at the Democrats' Caucus meeting, she was not subtle in reminding her members that they have power in the fight.

"I'm giving you the leverage to do whatever you have to do," Pelosi told her troops, according to a source in the room. "We have enough votes to show them never to do this again." 

The vote shows that Obama isn't only a lame duck; he's toxic waste, even to Democrats.  To be able to muster only 57 votes for a bill he desperately wanted passed is extraordinary.

The bill faces determined Democratic opposition in the Senate, notably from Elizabeth Warren.  Does she urge liberals to vote against the continuing resolution and shut down the government?

House Republicans are helpfully putting together a short-term funding bill for the government – perhaps as short as a week.  This would give Warren the opportunity to rally votes against the bill and then place maximum pressure on Obama to remove the offending parts of the bill.

In the interim, the GOP House should make clear that any alteration in the bill would lead to its defeat in the final vote, and also refuse to fund the government beyond Saturday.  That way, a shutdown would be blamed solely on Warren and the liberals in the Senate.

The Senate vote is expected late tonight.

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