In an abrupt shift, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner says the House will vote late Tuesday to raise the nation's debt limit with no policy conditions attached. A White House official welcomed the vote, saying it would boost confidence and investment in the United States.
Boehner displayed dark humor, singing “My oh my, what a wonderful day,” after failing to convince a majority in his own party to back his plan to raise the nation's debt ceiling.
The Republican speaker wanted to link the action, necessary to avoid default on government debt, to the repeal of an unpopular military pension cut. Conservative Republicans objected, saying the action wouldn't do anything to cut government spending and reduce the deficit.
Boehner said House Republicans are angry at Democratic President Barack Obama for refusing to even negotiate spending cuts in trade for raising the debt ceiling.
"He is the one driving up the debt," Boehner said referring to the president. "Then the question they are [Republicans] asking is, ‘Well, why should I deal with his debt limit?’ And so the fact is, we will let the Democrats put the votes up. We will put a minimum number of votes up to get it passed."
Boehner said Democratic House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi assured him that virtually all House Democrats would vote for what is often called a “clean” debt ceiling bill, with no conditions attached, requiring only a few Republican votes to pass.
Democrats, who had called for a clean debt ceiling bill, welcomed Boehner’s decision. Pelosi said no matter who the president is or who controls Congress, the full faith and credit of the United States is not negotiable.
The move is a shift for Boehner, who in 2011 vowed not to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats offered an equal amount of spending cuts, leading to a dramatic last minute showdown to raise the debt ceiling just hours ahead of a potential default, with the president signing a deficit reduction agreement.
However, for the past two years, Obama has refused to negotiate on the debt ceiling and a White House official said he hoped the tactic of threatening default for budget debates is over and would never come again.
The Democratic-led Senate is also expected pass a debt ceiling bill with no conditions attached. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had said that he is now using extraordinary measures to pay U.S. bills and that Congress needs to act by Feb. 27.