House Republicans are having trouble unifying around a debt-ceiling strategy that would accomplish the goal of earning some kind of spending concession (or concession in general) from President Barack Obama and Democrats.
On Wednesday, House Republican leadership shelved what had been its two main options in return for a one-year debt-ceiling increase — approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline and a repeal in the provision of Obamacare known as “risk corridors.”
A new option that gained support within the caucus on Wednesday was tying a debt-limit hike to a restoration of military-benefit cuts that were part of the recent bipartisan budget deal.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that Boehner does not have unanimous support from his caucus. And the shift in focus to restoring military-benefit cuts — something that members of both parties have supported, but would actually increase spending — is a play to earn at least some Democratic votes.
Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Ohio), a longtime ally of Boehner, summed up the Speaker’s current predicament well to The Washington Post’s Robert Costa on Wednesday (emphasis added):
“Right now, Jesus himself couldn’t be the speaker and get 218 Republicans behind something, so I think Speaker Boehner is trying his best to come up with a plan that can get close to that. Whatever we move, there will be critics everywhere, but at the end of the day we still have to govern.”
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