The fractured House Republicans will allow an increase in the debt limit to go for a vote tonight without concessions, a major surrender on the brink of the deadline for paying the nation’s bills and avoiding a potential default that would hurt the economy.
The House Republicans planned to demand conditions from the White House and Congressional Democrats in return for raising the borrowing authority. But they couldn’t agree on what to demand.
"Our members are not crazy about voting to increase the debt ceiling," said Republican House Speaker John Boehner. "We'll let the Democrats put the votes up we'll put a minimum number of votes up to get it passed."
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the nation will likel start running short of money to pay its bills on Feb. 27 unless the debt limit is raised. Congress is about to leave on a nearly two week break so there's urgency for the measure to come to the floor in the House immediately.
The debt limit bill would still need to go to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
Nearly all the House Democrats are expected to vote for raising the debt limit now that the Republicans have agreed not to attach any strings. But that would still require the support of about 20 House Republicans.
Boehner said he would vote for the measure, but needed to figure out which other Republicans would join him.
"We're going to have to find them," Boehner said.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said the Republicans helped pass the budget that led to the debt, and it's "irresponsible" for them not to support paying for it. Stoyer said Republican allies in the business world have been warning about the economic fallout that would result from a default on the debt.
"The Republican Party is a deeply divided party," Hoyer said.