WASHINGTON — Unwilling to risk spooking the markets, and leading a fractured GOP majority, House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday stepped back from a confrontation with Democrats to let Congress vote on increasing the government’s borrowing cap without trying to extract any concessions from the White House.
The move risks more displeasure from the tea party but came after most Republicans in the House made clear they had no taste for another high-stakes fight with President Barack Obama over the nation’s debt ceiling, which must be raised so the government can borrow money to pay all of its bills.
A vote was scheduled for Tuesday evening, with Democrats lined up to provide the bulk of support to pass the measure; the Senate was expected to pass the bill and send it to Obama by the end of the week.
The vote comes four months after Washington diffused a government shutdown and debt crisis that burned Republicans politically — an experience they did not want to repeat.
Tuesday’s developments, which many Capitol Hill insiders saw coming, marks a major reversal of the GOP’s strategy of trying to use the debt limit to force spending cuts or other concessions on Obama. The president yielded to such demands in 2011 — before his re-election — but has since boxed in Republicans by refusing to negotiate.
Boehner, R-Ohio, made the announcement after conservatives failed to rally around his latest plan, floated Monday, to tie lifting the debt ceiling to a measure to reverse cuts to military pensions that were enacted less than two months ago. Earlier plans to tie a debt cap increase to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline or repeal of part of the new health care law failed as well, stymied by a group of hard line conservatives who vowed never to vote for increasing the government’s debt, which stands at more than $17 trillion.