Republicans fail on procedural votes twice in 24 hours

WASHINGTON – House Republicans may need a new whip counter.

For the second time in the span of 24 hours, the new Republican majority failed to pass a bill under a procedural rule requiring a two-thirds majority that would expedite the vote. Both times, they wrongly believed they had it in the bag.

A GOP measure Wednesday would have compelled the Obama administration to ask the United Nations to return $179 million to the US in ostensibly overpaid funds. It failed 259-169, falling short of the two-thirds majority.

Only two Republicans voted against it, but not enough Democrats crossed the aisle to help push it through.

This followed a vote Tuesday on a bill that would have extended three key provisions of the PATRIOT Act, which failed 277 to 148, some 23 votes shy of a two-thirds majority.

Unlike the UN bill, it was unraveled in no small part by dissent from within the Republican caucus, as 26 GOP lawmakers voted against their party leadership.

The two failed votes reflect the harsh reality of governing in the majority. The PATRIOT Act vote in particular hints at the prospect of dissent from within Republican ranks. During the last two years, while they were the opposition, Republicans could usually count on virtually unanimous support from their own members.

"I think the Republican leaders have a real challenge," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday morning, as quoted by Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler. "I think their party is divided."