House Speaker John Boehner doesn't hold all the cards in the government shutdown standoff.
The Ohio Republican refuses to bring to the House floor a "clean" continuing resolution to keep the government running at the $986 billion level that expired Sept. 30. President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats say they won't accept anything less than a clean CR. Such a bill would almost certainly pass with most or all Democrats voting in favor, joined by 20 or so Republicans who have publicly said they would support it.
There is one other possibility for ending the standoff: A House floor discharge petition. This would "discharge" from committee consideration a clean CR funding bill. If a majority of the House signed on - 217 members needed in a chamber of 432 sitting lawmakers plus three vacancies - the bill would have to be brought up for a vote. Against the explicit wishes of Speaker Boehner.
Of course this would require some House Republicans to support it. Almost 20 Republicans, mostly from blue states, have publicly said they back it, according to Huffington Post: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA), Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ), Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA).
But it's exceedingly rare for a discharge petition to work. Leaders of the majority party view it as an act of betrayal to sign on, and punishment can be swift and severe.
The most recent successful discharge petition was the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, known as McCain-Feingold in the Senate and Shays-Meehan in the House. Starting in 1997, several attempts were made to bring it to the floor via the discharge petition. It finally passed in 2002, and the Senate passed it 60-40, narrowly avoiding a filibuster. President George W. Bush then signed it into law. At the time GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert saw the writing on the wall and allowed a floor vote before the discharge petition went into effect.
Previously the Balanced Budget Amendment twice received 218 signatures, in 1992 and 1993. However, it did not pass the Senate.
So it's possible a clean CR could still be brought up for a vote in the coming days. It's highly unlikely. But you never know.