I was just talking to a Capitol Hill source who thinks there are maybe two dozen Republican votes for the authorization, no more — and there probably won’t be more. It’s hard to know because the situation is fluid, and the vote is so sensitive that Republicans members don’t even want the leadership keeping a tally of votes, for fear that it will lead to an effort to influence them.
He cites a couple of incidental factors at play here:
1) The debate started while members were scattered to the winds on recess, making it impossible for the White House to do any persuasion in person;
2) The chickens are coming home to roost in terms of the non-existent White House relationship with Capitol Hill. He shared a few stories of the chief White House lobbyist either not knowing key players he should know or not being recognized himself by key players (tellingly, my source doesn’t know his name);
3) Even as the vote is swinging the wrong way, there seems to be no urgency on the part of the White House, which should be in a near panic.
Of course, the bigger influence on Republicans is the deluge of calls and e-mails in opposition, as we’ve reported here and here.
If only a couple of dozen Republicans are in support, that means almost all Democrats have to vote in favor. Absent a big change that shifts dozens of votes all at once, my source expects the authorization to lose. “It’s hard to find a precedent for a president imploding on something this big,” he says.