House Republicans’ two main options for dealing on raising the debt ceiling are dead, a GOP aide confirmed Wednesday.
Republicans had planned to tie a debt-limit increase — something that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said needs to happen by late February — to either the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline or a repeal of a provision of the Affordable Care Act known as “risk corridors.”
But in a meeting on Wednesday, House Republican leaders acknowledged that neither proposal would have the required 218 votes to pass.
Right now, there are no clear options moving forward. But a House Republican leadership aide said it was too early to assume that the House would pass a so-called “clean” debt-limit increase without strings attached.
“I expect so, yes. That’s what we’re working on right now,” the aide told Business Insider.
Some conservatives that have made the debt-limit one of the main vehicles of the opposition have even urged House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders to pass a clean increase and avoid “theatre.”
“We should bring up a clean debt ceiling, let the Democrats pass it, and just move on,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) told The Washington Post’s Robert Costa on Tuesday. “Our constituents are fed up with the political theatre. If we’re not going to fight for something specific, we might as well let the Democrats own it.”
Democrats are privately gleeful that Republicans have been so openly divided on their strategy. Senate Democrats are waiting to let House Republicans move first on a debt-limit increase.
“We are hoping this is all a kabuki dance to show their members that a clean bill is the only option,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide told Business Insider. Don’t be surprised, the aide said, if some Senate Republicans come out for a “clean” increase to avoid the so-called theatre.
Any option on which House Republicans decide would need near-unanimous support from their caucus. It’s likely that very few, if any, House Democrats will vote for anything other than a “clean” debt-ceiling increase.
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