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Congress: Can Boehner get to 217?

Where do things stand? Roll Call: “House to Take Crucial Vote; Senate in Limbo.” From the story: “Uncertainty pervaded the Capitol on Wednesday, as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) tried to wrestle every last vote out of his caucus for his debt and deficit plan and the Senate bided its time awaiting that crucial House vote today.”

“House Republicans began coalescing yesterday around House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to avoid default on the national debt, saying the very future of their party was at stake in the fight, even as Senate Democrats said the bill stands no chance of passing their chamber,” the Boston Globe reports. “A day after Boehner’s plan encountered stiff resistance from conservatives in his own party, House Republicans held an emotional closed-door meeting where leadership pressured members to vote for the speaker’s proposal when it comes to the floor today. The legislation would raise the debt ceiling in two steps, now and early next year, and make offsetting spending cuts over the next decade.”

The New York Times profiles Boehner and his tougher style. “The speaker has used the many resources at his disposal to coax along his fellow Republicans, from listening sessions in which House leaders sought to educate Republican newcomers on the issue, to an informal party last week.”

“What for months had been a quiet campaign to pressure the GOP into a more conservative footing has, over the course of the debt limit negotiations, blossomed into a full-blown insurrection, led by Republican Steering Committee Chairman Jim DeMint (S.C.) in the Senate and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio) in the House,” Roll Call reports. “And at a Wednesday Conference meeting, the conflict was exposed raw, as Republicans dressed down Jordan for his tactics. According to aides familiar with the situation, Paul Teller, the RSC’s executive director, and top DeMint aides, including  Communications Director Wesley Denton, have worked closely for years in coordinating their work.”

Roll Call profiles Teller and says he “was probably the last person Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) thought he'd have to slap around during the debate over the debt ceiling.”

Jordan apologized, per The Hill.

The CBO revised Boehner’s bill to $917 billion in savings, meeting “his original target of exceeding the size of the $900 billion debt limit increase by cutting the deficit by $917 billion, something Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill does not yet do,” Roll Call writes, adding, “After the new score, the discretionary cuts in Boehner’s bill match up almost exactly with Reid’s package, a good sign for reaching a compromise agreement.” (More: “Reid’s cuts include about $1.3 trillion in war savings, which the GOP called a gimmick. Boehner’s proposal includes the same war spending levels, but House Republicans say they shouldn’t be counted toward deficit reduction.”)

Stu Rothenberg makes this point: “[R]aising the debt ceiling with the backing of Democrats while most conservative Republicans sit on the sidelines would mean the end of Boehner’s Speakership and would be an invitation for a civil war within the Republican Party.” And he concludes: “‘In the end,’ one GOP strategist told me recently, ‘somebody is going to have to blink.’ It’s still unclear whether it will be Boehner, Reid or Obama. But I wouldn’t yet count on it being House tea party conservatives.”

“A growing faction of House Democrats is renewing its push for a clean debt limit vote — pressing ahead even as the White House and Senate Democrats appear committed to fulfilling Republican demands for spending cuts to accompany a deal. But liberals risk being labeled as out of touch with the political climate,” Roll Call reports.

The Hill: “House Democratic leaders on Wednesday called for a clean vote on raising the debt ceiling to prevent a government default.”

Ben Affleck, a liberal, on Republicans’ use of his film “The Town” in their conference meeting yesterday: “[I]f they're going to be watching movies, I think 'The Company Men' is more appropriate.”