Hope For Boehner? Some House Conservatives Closing Ranks On Debt Limit Bill

July 27, 2011 7:26 a.m.

On Tuesday, conservative Republican Study Committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) predicted defeat for House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) plan to raise the debt limit.

“I am confident as of this morning that there are not 218 Republicans in support of the plan,” he said.

He was counting on the opposition of dozens of House conservatives who have in the past pledged not to raise the debt limit on terms that compromising with Democrats would require.

Twenty-four hours later, after taking a beating from the GOP establishment and party leadership, and after watching Democrats grow more and more confident in their ability to split the Republican coalition, those conservatives are reconsidering their rebellion.“I think Jordan was probably counting me originally, but I’ve moved a little bit,” Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), a freshman conservative, told reporters in response to a question from TPM.

Fahrenthold joined the GOP caucus for a morning meeting Wednesday, after which several undecided members, and opponents of Boehner’s bill, streamed out to tell reporters they’re undergoing a change of heart.

“The risk of sending this country into uncharted territory with a default is really concerning me,” Farenthold said.

“A number of members have indicated that they think it’s very important that we get the cuts that we can get and address the debt limit problem and not default on our obligations, and this is the alternative that accomplishes that,” said Rep. Bob Godlatte (R-VA). “There is no other alternative out there that we think can pass the House…. Members are realizing that if we want to move forward on cutting government spending…this is the only vehicle available to do that.”

Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a conservative who announced his support for the Boehner plan earlier this week, said he’d bet his retirement savings that the legislation will pass the House Thursday.

House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said support for Boehner’s plan is “growing everyday,” and that Jordan’s scaling back his opposition. “I think Jim is always laying out where he sees he thinks the bill can be better and we’re always working on issues.”

That’s not to say that Boehner’s bill is a shoe-in. Plenty of conservatives in the House remain opposed.

“I’m a beat up no,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said as he walked briskly past reporters in the Capitol basement.

But despite the deep divisions in the conservative movement over the plan, and despite yesterday’s hiccup over the Congressional Budget Office‘s analysis of the plan, its prospects look much better today than yesterday.

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