Is House Passage Still Possible?

Beutler warns against taking the Syria whip counts too seriously:

If you take members at their word, most of the 217 or so “nos or lean nos” are actually “lean nos.” Anyone who’s leaning is by definition “gettable” by either side, and that right there demonstrates that the committed opponents are less numerous than the whip wielders would have you believe. But members aren’t exactly honest when they’re positioning themselves ahead of important votes. They take positions designed to both avoid scrutiny and maximize leverage. If you’re a member who secretly supports attacking Syria but want to avoid a week of political backlash, and also want to make your mark on the authorization somehow, or secure a favor from your leadership or the administration, you say you’re “leaning no.”

Now whip counts aren’t totally meritless. If interpreted correctly they serve very useful journalistic and organizing functions. They’re great for helping reporters and activists identify and press wishy-washy pols. They also begin to resemble reality just ahead of the actual vote. But as others have noted, you’ll mislead yourself if you use them to extrapolate roll call votes

Meanwhile, John Fund reports that the House might not vote if there isn’t enough support for passage:

“I just don’t believe that if defeat is certain, the House leadership will want to see a president utterly humiliated on the House floor in a public vote,” one top aide to the Republican leadership told me. Should the full Senate vote to approve an attack on Syria — as still appears somewhat likely — the battle would shift to the House. “An attempt would be made to let the whole thing go away. I don’t think it would be done to give the GOP any extra leverage in debt-ceiling or budget negotiations — Obama isn’t the grateful type — but simply because the weakness it would demonstrate wouldn’t be good for the country,” the aide told me.