House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor stand in front of a white flag of surrender
House Republican leadership is already flying the white flag of surrender.
The question now is whether they have the votes to surrender in unison.
If you want to bury something in the news, announcing it in the middle of a presidential inauguration seems like a pretty good way to go, and that's exactly what House Republicans did yesterday when they offered details on exactly how they plan to conduct their debt limit surrender on the floor of the House sometime tomorrow:
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives said they aim to pass on Wednesday a nearly four-month extension of the U.S. debt limit, to May 19.

The measure does not specify a new dollar amount but allows the government to borrow what is needed to meet its obligations during the extension period, according to legislative language released on Monday. [...]

Under the proposed legislation, if either the House or Senate fails to meet the April 15 budget deadline, lawmakers' pay would be withheld under the measure until their chamber passes a budget. If none is passed, they would eventually get paid, but not until next January 15.

This is pretty much what Republicans announced on Friday, but the "no pay" provision is even sillier. Instead of "no budget, no pay" it's "no budget, delayed pay." That's really a side note, however—Senate Democrats are already saying they'll produce a budget and the law already requires them to pass one. Including a demand for one in the debt ceiling bill is stupid, but it's more like insisting on a talking point than anything else. In any meaningful sense, Republicans are waving a white flag here.

The question now is whether House Republicans can pull together enough votes to pass their surrender—or if we're about to see a replay of House Speaker John Boehner's Plan B debacle. One big difference is that if the measure were to pass the House and the Senate, the administration says the president would sign it. Plan B, on the other hand, was never even going to get a vote in the Senate.

Given that this legislation isn't dead on arrival, Republicans may be more willing to vote for it. The conservative Club for Growth has already come and said they won't oppose it unlike with Plan B. Nonetheless, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) says he'll vote no and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) says he's leaning no. Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is applying pressure from the right, accusing House Republicans—correctly—of caving.

Boehner can lose 16 Republican votes before he'd need Democratic support to pass the bill, but as the first major legislative action after back-to-back violations of the Hastert Rule, he'll probably do everything he can to make sure he doesn't need any Democratic votes. If he does end up needing them, there's no telling what will happen, because Democrats have no incentive to go out of their way to help the GOP enact its weird (but ultimately meaningless) "delayed pay" gambit.

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