So you know that massive Republican budget-cutting bill that was pulled from the floor last week for lack of votes? The one that may or may not include drilling the the Arctic Refuge and a massive giveaway of public lands?

Its prospects are not looking good. The legendary Republican discipline and unity were already looking shaky last week. But earlier today, a massive Labor-HHS spending bill (with its attendant huge cuts in education and home-heating assistance) was voted down on the floor of the House. Not pulled off the floor for lack of votes, mind you, but voted down. The vote was even held open for a half hour (an odious and increasingly common tactic for R leadership) and they still couldn’t wrangle the votes.

The is the first floor vote the R’s have flat out lost in a long, long time. It’s a big deal. It demonstrates the ongoing breakdown of the Republican coalition.

And it makes the prospects for an extremely contentious budget-cutting bill (later this week!) quite dim. Good news for those concerned for environmental protection.

There’s more on the Republican meltdown on The New Republic‘s new(ish) blog The Plank here and here.

Update [2005-11-18 8:24:48 by David Roberts]: Well, that will teach me to prognosticate. The House passed the bill this morning. Sounds like it was a barrel of fun, too.

The budget debate was marked by acrimony and personal attacks. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) mocked the deficit-minded “Blue Dog” Democrats, calling them “lap dogs.” Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.) called the youthful, redheaded Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) a “Howdy Doody-looking nimrod.”

Now we’ll have to see how things play out in the House-Senate committee.