The House passed legislation Wednesday night to raise the nation's borrowing limit and reopen the federal government, ending the weeks-long showdown that centered on House Republican attempts to undo President Obama's health care law.
The deal was brokered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., two lawmakers with a notoriously antagonistic relationship. Their legislation, which passed the House on a vote of 285-144, cleared the Senate hours earlier on a vote of 81-18. It then went to the White House, where Obama quickly signed the bill.
House Republican leadership, which brought the Senate-negotiated bill to the House floor only after a multitude of other options had been exhausted, saw a surprising level of GOP support for the measure. When the votes were tallied, 87 Republicans voted in favor of the proposal—a much higher level of support than the estimates offered by lawmakers and aides throughout the day.
Meanwhile, there was not a single Democratic defection among the 198 Democrats who voted.
In addition to Speaker John Boehner, who cast a rare floor vote, the entire Republican leadership was expected to support the bill. But there was one defection: Republican Policy Chairman James Lankford of Oklahoma voted no.
There was a greater divide among House committee chairmen. Several committee chiefs, including Reps. Dave Camp, Darrell Issa, and Mike Rogers, voted in favor, while others, such as Reps. Paul Ryan, Pete Sessions, and Bob Goodlatte, voted against.
Ryan's vote against the plan is particularly noteworthy, considering he will meet Thursday morning with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to begin hashing out the details of a bicameral conference committee that was promised by the legislation. This group will have until Dec. 15 to negotiate the nation's long-term budgetary issues.
Shortly after the vote, Boehner announced the House Republicans who will join Ryan on the conference committee: Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, vice chairman of the Budget Committee; and Reps. Tom Cole of Oklahoma and Diane Black of Tennessee. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi named three conferees: Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, ranking member on the Budget Committee; and Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina and Nita Lowey of New York.
When the vote concluded, Lankford, the one leadership member who voted against the bill, approached a group of conservatives in their usual hangout spot in the center of the House chamber. Surrounded by the lower chamber's leading antagonists, all of whom had voted no, Lankford broke into a grin as he appeared to make a joke.
All the members laughed.