House Speaker John Boehner reportedly likes to enjoy a bit of merlot in the evening, but after Thursday’s tense vote on the continuing resolution that ended the budget battle of 2011 and funds government through September, his appetite most likely turned to a bottle of scotch.
Earlier in the day, the Speaker predicted there would be bipartisan support for the bill and he was right, but only because lawmakers were not prepared to deal with yet another threat of a government shutdown. Truth be told, he and other GOP leaders were unable to secure the 218 votes from its own conference to pass the bill without support from Democrats, and 59 Republicans voted against the bill, including Rep. Tim Scott, who, as president of his freshman class, is part of the Republican leadership team.
In fact, after time ran out on the 15-minute vote, there were still only 173 votes from either side, as several Democrats sat on their votes while Republicans like Rep. Allen West, who firmly believes that the bill doesn’t cut federal spending deep enough, stood their ground against it. A Congressional Budget Office report released on Wednesday indicated that in real dollars the cuts are actually only worth about $323 million. In the end, it passed by a vote of 260 to 167, with 81 Democratic yays, including some reluctantly cast by Congressional Black Caucus members.
“I’m sitting on my vote and probably not going to vote for it,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield before the final tally. “Even though it had bipartisan support in the resolution of it, I’m still not there yet.” While he recognizes that some “painful cuts” had to be made, Butterfield, who in the end voted against the measure, said he was uncomfortable with the substantial cuts made to human service programs, such as low-income heating assistance and community development block grants that so many African-Americans depend on.
The Senate also passed the continuing resolution and President Obama will sign it in to law on Friday, when the budget battle begins anew with a vote on the House Republican 2012 budget proposal.