Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


How many members of Congress does it take to change a light bulb? (+video)

Joking aside, the real question is 'how many lawmakers does it take to end the government shutdown.' Democrats and a few Republicans constitute a House majority, but Speaker John Boehner is not allowing a 'clean' vote unencumbered by the fight over Obamacare.

By Staff writer / October 6, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner, right, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, at a news conference Friday with Rep. James Lankford, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Rep. Pete Sessions. Boehner is struggling between Democrats that control the Senate and GOP conservatives in his caucus who insist any funding legislation must also kill or delay the new health care law.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Enlarge

How many members of Congress does it take to change a light bulb?

Skip to next paragraph

It’s not the first time the question has been asked, although it’s usually presented as: “How many members of Congress does it take to screw up a light bulb?” Especially by conservatives when the Energy Department issues new light bulb regulations, as it did earlier this year.

But the question today – and it’s not a joke – is how many members of Congress does it take to end the government shutdown now in its sixth day?

The short answer is: a majority of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans. (The Democrat-controlled Senate already has passed a “clean” budget resolution unencumbered by attempts to stymie the new health insurance law known as “Obamacare.”)

According to the House Clerk, there are at present 232 Republicans, 200 Democrats, and 3 vacancies. That means if just 17 Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for a clean C.R. (continuing resolution), a majority of the House would have prevailed, the shutdown would end, and likely the more serious problem – voting to raise the US debt limit before the Oct. 17 deadline – could be solved as well.

But so far, Speaker John Boehner has not allowed that to happen.

On ABC’s “This Week” Sunday he again insisted, “There are not the votes in the House to pass a clean C.R.”

Democrats beg to differ.

“A majority in Congress would do the right thing if given a chance to vote to open the government,” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “A majority in Congress would do the right thing if given a chance to let us pay our bills. Congress needs to work, they need to do their job, but the majority needs to be given a chance."

Permissions

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!