House Republicans will move to pass a clean extension of the debt ceiling on Thursday, acceding to Democrats’ demands that no extraneous provisions be attached to the debt bill.
The GOP jettisoned plans to append a measure that would fix cuts to military pensions after it became clear that there was not enough Republican support for the strategy. The new proposal would authorize new borrowing for about a year, through March of 2015.
“Let his party give him the debt ceiling increase that he wants,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Tuesday. He said the GOP would supply a “minimum” number of votes to help Democrats in the House pass the legislation, and that Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Calif., agreed to supply virtually unanimous support for the measure.
The plan announced Tuesday represents an unmistakable retreat in strategic and rhetorical terms for Republicans. Boehner had long ago laid out a principle, in which cuts and reforms must match or exceed the new amount of borrowing authorized by Congress.
Tuesday’s developments are also a minor political victory for President Barack Obama, who has taken a hard line against negotiating over the debt limit.
“The debt ceiling is raised simply to pay bills that we have already accrued,” Obama said in December. “It is not something that is a negotiating tool. It's not leverage. It's the responsibility of Congress. It's part of doing their job. I expect them to do their job.”
Of Obama, Boehner described the thinking of GOP lawmakers: “He's the one driving up the debt, and the question they're asking is. ‘Why should I deal with his debt limit?’”
The measure is also expected to face easy passage in the Democratic-held Senate.