After Bailout Bill Failure, An Un-Shanah-Like Shanah Tova
Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, isn't exactly a day of fresh beginnings in the House, where partisan animosity remains intense a day after all hell broke loose.
The blame game continues over which party's House leadership is at fault for the stunning defeat Monday of a massive bipartisan $700 billion financial bailout bill. Mainly, it's a blame game over counting (or miscounting) votes.
While Republican leaders are blaming their Democratic counterparts for not whipping (counting) votes on their side of the aisle, Democrats say it is GOP vote counters who are to blame. As House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on this morning's "Today" show, "You deliver the votes you promised. Now, they did not keep their promise on the other side."
He was referring to an agreement he reached with House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and others in the wee hours Monday morning. According to aides, the bipartisan deal involved Democrats agreeing to deliver half of their caucus -- 118 votes -- and Republicans putting up the other half, 100 votes, to get to the magic number of 218 for passage.
In the end, the bill failed on a 228 to 205 vote, with 140 Democrats voting yes and 95 voting no; 65 Republicans approved the measure, 133 Republicans rejected it.
According to one Democratic leadership aide with knowledge of the deal, two hours before the floor vote, Blunt told Clyburn he could "only get to the high 80s." Meaning, he could get that many 'yes' votes. "Clyburn said, 'OK, I'll help you out, I'll spot you 15 votes and get to 133. You pick the rest,'" the aide tells us.
Obviously, the high 80s turned out to be a much chillier mid 60s. "Where were the votes?" the Dem leadership aide asked rhetorically of Blunt. "If you thought you only had 65, why didn't you say something?"
House Minority Leader John Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, sent reporters an email Tuesday evening pointing to a Politico story that said Clyburn, the House Democratic whip, "was not actually whipping this vote," as Steel put it. And he pointed to the Democratic leadership's "failure to get nearly 100 of their members to vote for the bipartisan financial rescue plan."
And Republicans -- though not all of them -- continued blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's partisan floor speech as the reason why at least a dozen Republicans changed their minds at the last minute and voted against the bill. (Though Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) calls that a "stupid claim" by his leadership.)
As Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Monday, "I'll make an offer: Give me those twelve people's names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are, and maybe they'll now think about the country."
Frank is observing Rosh Hashanah today and, therefore, isn't taking press calls, his spokesman tells us. So he wasn't able to answer our question about whether he's finding the start of this new year to be one of fresh beginnings with his neighbors on the other side of the aisle.
Mary Ann Akers
September 30, 2008; 1:30 PM ET
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