House Republicans to Advance 'Clean' Debt Limit Hike

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House Speaker John Boehner Holds Weekly News Conference
Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesHouse Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
By ANDREW TAYLOR

WASHINGTON -- In a concession to President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers, House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday the House will vote to increase the government's borrowing cap without trying to attach conditions sought by some Republicans. "We'll let his party give him the debt ceiling increase that he wants," Boehner said, hours before the expected evening vote.

Boehner announced the plan after a poll of Republican members found insufficient support for a strategy that would have made passage of the debt limit increase conditional on a plan to reverse a recently passed cut to military pensions. Obama and congressional Democrats argued the GOP should not try to use a vote on the debt limit to extract concessions from the administration.

"We'll let the Democrats put the votes up," the speaker said. "We'll put a minimum number of [GOP] votes up to get it passed."

He said he expected almost all of Obama's Democratic allies to vote for the so-called clean debt cap increase but he would be one of the few Republicans to back it as well.

Boehner's announcement came after a plan hatched on Monday to reverse the cut in military pensions as the price for increasing the government's borrowing cap got a rocky reception from skeptical conservatives.

"Right now we've got a debt ceiling bill that increases spending, which is diametrically 180 degrees opposite of what we were battling over just two years ago -- where the question was how much in spending cuts we were going to get," said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala.

Now, rather than trying to win over unhappy Republicans for the debt ceiling vote, Boehner will rely on Democrats to pass a "clean" increase in the borrowing cap through March of next year.
GOP leaders had earlier attempted to build support for plans to tie a debt cap increase to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline or repeal of part of the new health care law; both those efforts fell flat as well. He said his inability to assemble 218 GOP votes -- enough to win a floor vote -- for any debt limit plan left him no alternative but to turn to Democrats.

"When you don't have 218 votes, you have nothing. We've seen that before and we see it again," Boehner said, adding that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised him sweeping Democratic support in Wednesday's vote.

The White House applauded the move. Gene Sperling, director of the White House's National Economic Council, said the administration hopes Tuesday's development means "that the tactic of threatening default or threatening the full faith and credit of the United States for budget debates is over, off the table and never is going to happen again. And if so that would, I think, be a boost for confidence and investment in the U.S."

The announcement amounted to a bitter defeat for a party that has sought to use must-pass debt ceiling measures as leverage to force spending cuts on Democrats. Republicans won more than $2 trillion in spending cuts in a 2011 showdown, but gave Obama two debt limit increases last year with only modest add-ons.

The House now plans a separate vote on the military pensions. The cuts, just passed in December, would reduce by one percentage point the cost-of-living pension increases for military retirees under the age of 62. They were backed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Repealing them would cost $7 billion over the coming decade, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday.

The reduction has sparked an uproar among advocates for veterans, and lawmakers in both parties want to repeal it.

In fact, the Senate voted 94-0 on Monday to advance a repeal of the military cost-of-living cuts, though Democrats and Republicans still disagree over whether to replace the pension curbs with cuts elsewhere in the government's $3.5 trillion budget.

Time is running out for lawmakers to act to lift the debt limit. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told lawmakers last week that Treasury will exhaust by Feb. 27 its ability to employ accounting maneuvers to borrow to pay its bills.

Lew told congressional leaders Monday that he had begun tapping two large government worker retirement funds to clear room under the debt limit. The action involving the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund will provide $50 billion to $75 billion in additional borrowing room, while tapping the Government Securities Investment Fund will provide about $175 billion in borrowing room, Lew estimated.

Lew announced he would suspend payments to these two pension funds and would also draw down investments made in the funds. Previous Treasury secretaries have also employed this bookkeeping maneuver. Once Congress approves a new debt ceiling, the Treasury makes the funds whole by replacing the withdrawn funds and lost interest earnings.

Raising the limit is needed so the government, which ran a $680 billion deficit last year, can borrow enough to pay all its bills, including Social Security benefits, interest payments on the accumulated debt and government salaries. Both Democrats and Republicans agree that failing to do so could spark a disaster in financial markets.


John Boehner Says He Will Introduce Clean Debt-Ceiling Raise

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8 Comments

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demcoverup

badsomey
With big tax cuts for the rich and big corporations.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Rich people like President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid love their tax cuts Someyahoo.
So you keep posting your infantile comments and while you're at it try and find a job.

February 11 2014 at 6:26 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
demcoverup

badsomey
The Tea Party is the majority party at the Funny Farm

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

As each day goes by you never cease in making a total fool out of yourself Someyahoo. How's the job hunt going?

February 11 2014 at 6:24 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
minimaniac99

Clinton had a surplus Bush put us in this hole with all his undeclared wars. Vote democratic and save America.

February 11 2014 at 6:09 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to minimaniac99's comment
demcoverup

What surplus??? And the debt under Clinton continued to rise. And what about all the Democrats who gave the go ahead to go to war.

Hillary Clinton championed going to war in Iraq. You Obambots play your same broken record day after day which results in nothing but a bunch of liberal nonsense.

The ones who bought the lies voted Democrats and the country is being destroyed by the current administration because of it.

February 11 2014 at 6:38 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
jj2301

Clinton signed a balanced budget after going toe-to-toe with Gingrich and Kasich 5 (yes, 5 times) and losing. He also had to sign welfare cuts that Obama proceeded to gut during his first term. Clinton never met a balanced budget or spending decrease he liked; he just had to deal with a couple of budget hawks that handed him his @55.

Lefties like to spin it like Clinton had the idea; he was dragged, kicking and screaming, into a balanced budget by Republicans.

February 11 2014 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jj2301's comment
jj2301

Doubtful? What, is Google broken today? The news reports are all still there. Just because you don't want to believe them is your affair.

February 11 2014 at 7:14 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down
toosmart4u

How many times must you be reminded of such facts. Yes, a surplus in taxes from the Clinton Administration and bush turned it into a major debt. Now the democrats wanted to shore up social security and pay on the national debt, but the GOP wanted tax cuts, just what we got and then spend, spend, spend our tax dollars and put us in a deep hole.

February 11 2014 at 4:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to toosmart4u's comment
progressivehoax

Hey Evan, you mean the Obama tax cuts.

February 11 2014 at 4:51 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
demcoverup

What surplus? Lol. The country was still in debt up to our eyeballs.

So you're very smart you are. The Democrats wanted to shore up social security??? You mean rob social security. Your screen name is a joke right?

February 11 2014 at 6:30 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
toosmart4u

People you had forgotten the debt that bush jr. put us in not to mention the trillion plus dollars he took out of social security trust fund and replaced with with low interest federal treasury notes. You forgot about the debt he put us in with 2 wars. Yes, your republican president spent plenty of money and NEVER had a balanced budget. After all bush jr took over a surplus from the Clinton administration.

February 11 2014 at 4:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to toosmart4u's comment
demcoverup

You mean the debt that Nancy Pelosi racked up in the latter Bush years. And look at the Obama years 17 trillion in debt and counting. Your screen name has to be a joke.

Bush put us in two wars what about all the Democrats who gave the go ahead to go to war.

How about Hillary Clinton she was all about going to war in Iraq. Gosh you really aren't very smart at all.

February 11 2014 at 6:33 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
progressivehoax

You mean the war the Democrats voted for.

February 12 2014 at 7:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leonard

I'm glad Boehner is facing reality, no on wants the debt to keep climbing but you cant refuse to pay the bills you have already accumilated. We still need toi get a good compromise from everyone to cut the spending, we will all have to sacerfice a little for the good of the county.

February 11 2014 at 3:10 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
shalebrook

It is well past time for Boehner to be replaced as House Majority Leader. He has turned a blind eye to Obama's spending spree for well over five years now, also turning his back on conservative Republican balanced budget and prudent spending virtues. Furthermore, he was one of those who approved the pork barrel laden $1 trillion Agriculture bill.

February 11 2014 at 2:51 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to shalebrook's comment
Mitch

The problem is, there is no Obama spending spree. Look it up. He's the first president since Ike to oversee consecutive years of spending declines. You are blinded to the facts. There was never a Republican balanced budget. The Ryan plan wouldn't have balanced the budget for 20 years, and that without a recession or war. The "prudent " spending virtues of the GOP were Reagan/Bush doubling spending and tripling the debt in his eight years, and Bush/Cheney redoubling debt and spending in their eight. Don't make me laugh.

February 11 2014 at 3:27 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mitch's comment
jwm347

Surely you're a joke! obummer has spent more than previous presidents combined. It's people like you that are a shill for this a-hole. obummer is the only one I know that brags about a decrease in spending but is still spending almost a trillion more than we take in. If that was you,,,,,well, you probably are on welfare, foodstamps and using an obamaphone, not to mention disability. In other words, the typical obama voter

February 11 2014 at 3:49 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down
scottee

clean debt?
as opposed to what?

February 11 2014 at 2:45 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
shorthosep

They always say--------- either lead, follow, or get out of the way. Looks like the GOP majority (the do NOTHING) congress, has decided to take another 2 years off. Good luck with that.

February 11 2014 at 1:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
pdbliz

I have now learned,,,,Republicans are just as CRAZY AS HELL AS THE DEMOCRATES.!!!!!

NEED TO GET RID OF WASHINGTON PERIOD.!!!!!!!

February 11 2014 at 1:52 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pdbliz's comment
scottee

we re-elect 90% of the politicians when they have a 5% approval rating...why???

February 11 2014 at 2:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply