The Magic Number

279.

 

That’s the magic number.

 

That’s how many people have to approve of the debt ceiling bill for it to become law.

 

218 Representatives, 60 Senators, and President Obama.

 

And it’s possible to pare that number down by 9. If the opponents in the Senate choose not to filibuster, it would only take 50 votes — with Vice President Biden casting the tie-breaker.

 

Currently, the House consists of 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats. That means that Speaker Boehner can lose the votes of about 10% of his caucus before he starts needing Democrats to get the bill passed. So as long as he likes the deal and can sell it to 90% of his members, it’s a go.

 

In the Senate, there are 47 Republicans, 51 Democrats, and 2 “independents” (Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman) that are Democrats in all but name. That means that if the Republicans skip the filibuster, the Democrats can pass the bill handily. And if the Republicans do make a fight of it, the Democrats only need to peel off seven Republican Senators. I’m not a close follower of Senate politics, but I think that the Democrats can count on John McCain, Scott Brown, and the two liberals from Maine — and that puts them halfway there. Two more (Kyl and Hutchison) are retiring, and can do whatever the hell they wish without fear of personal consequences. And looking through the list of current Senators, the names Murkowski and Hoeven jump out at me as potential swing votes (Murkowski has no real love for the party after her last election, and Rob Port regularly lambastes Hoeven, and that’s good enough for me).

"We have a divided government because we have a divided country"
Obama's Great Victory