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Boehner Agrees To Bring Clean Debt Ceiling Bill To The Floor

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio arrives for a news conference Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
J. Scott Applewhite
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio arrives for a news conference Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Congress seems poised to avoid another dramatic and potentially costly confrontation over the debt ceiling.

In a private meeting with Republican lawmakers, Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, said he would bring a bill that raises the debt ceiling without any strings attached. That means that a coalition of Democrats and Republicans are likely to vote to raise the amount of money the country is allowed to borrow.

In the past, House Republicans have insisted that every dollar of new borrowing is replaced with cuts in the budget. An impasse over the debt ceiling in 2011 led S&P to downgrade the country's credit rating.

Politico reports that even the clean bill may face hurdles, however:

"Senior Republican lawmakers and aides are openly wondering just how many of their members will vote for a clean debt ceiling — Democrats will have to bear the brunt of passing the bill, GOP insiders say.

"Senior GOP sources wonder if they'll be able to get 18 Republicans to vote for a debt ceiling increase — the bare minimum for passage if every Democrat votes yes."

The New York Times reports that today's decision means Boehner also gave up on an idea to link a raise in the debt ceiling to "legislation that would have reversed a cut to veteran retirement benefits."

The Times continues:

"But conservative Republicans opposed the plan, and Republican leaders worried that Democrats would not go along, holding firm to President Obama's demand that no policy attachments come with a debt ceiling increase.

"On Tuesday, the speaker gave up, a dramatic gesture for a leader who once declared the 'Boehner Rule,' which holds that any debt ceiling increase should be attached to spending cuts of equal size. A House Republican who was in the room for the speaker's announcement described the response as 'stunned silence.' "

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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