Speaker John Boehner will allow the House to take the vote Wednesday on a Senate-prepared agreement to lift the debt ceiling and end 16 days of shuttered federal government — though many of his conservative House colleagues don’t support the measure.
Such a move by Boehner comes as the administration’s Thursday deadline for hiking the nation’s $16.7 trillion borrowing cap is less than 24 hours away. Boehner has said he would do everything he can to keep the nation from default.
The House had been expected to vote prior to the Senate on the measure as a way around some of the procedural hurdles that could have been put up in the Senate, under an earlier strategy hatched by Senate and House leaders.
But updated plans are for the Senate to now go first as early as Wednesday afternoon or early evening—with the House to follow with a vote in the evening.
Helping to smooth the way for the Senate to take that initial action was Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who told reporters Wednesday that he would not attempt to block the measure.
The 233 House Republicans are expected to gather behind closed doors at 3 p.m. to hear their leader explain why and how he intends to bring the measure to the floor in that chamber— and where the party’s efforts on fiscal issues might go from there.
For now, Boehner’s office officially says there is no final decision on a plan that would require most Democrats to join with a couple dozen moderate and other Republicans to pass the bill. “No decision has been made about how or when a potential Senate agreement could be voted on in the House,” said a Boehner spokesman, Michael Steel.
But other lawmakers and aides say a vote will occur Wednesday. And Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her House Democrats are viewed as critical to getting the initial passage of the measure in the House.
“Boehner will need Pelosi votes,” said one senior Democratic aide who is familiar with what he described as the cross-party negotiations that have been occurring Wednesday morning. “Democrats will be united,” another senior Democratic leadership aide said, indicating that most of the 200 House Democrats are on board with the plan.
The Senate-prepared deal will allow an extension of the debt limit until Feb. 7, subject to a congressional disapproval process similar to what was included in the Budget Control Act of 2011. Under that language, if the debt increase is not approved in both chambers — or is vetoed by the president and is not overridden — the debt limit would increase.
The measure also includes language to reopen government until Jan. 15 by restarting funding at current levels through Jan. 15.
There also is included an agreement for the House and Senate to go to a budget conference, and backpay for furloughed federal workers. The measure also would require what is described by senior Democratic aides as “confirmation of the effectiveness of existing income verification processes for those receiving government subsidies” for health care under the Affordable Care Act.
Whether Boehner might ultimately face the wrath of hardline members of his Republican conference for allowing sucha vote a Senate-prepared bill to resolve the debt ceiling and government shutdown is open for debate. But Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky is among those providing glowing endorsements for he sees as political bravery by Boehner.
“Today, he is my hero,” said Yarmuth, standing outside of the House chamber.
The decision to move ahead with the Senate bill on Wednesday comes after a House GOP measure that Boehner unveiled to his members Tuesday unraveled through the day because of various objections, mostly from conservatives.
After passing the bill, House GOP leaders will allow members to adjourn for the rest of the week — and possibly into early next week - according to lawmakers and congressional aides familiar with the plans.
But once that happens, House members will be given the green light to leave — and get started on spinning what’s just happened to constituents back home in their districts.
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