House Speaker John Boehner vowed the United States would not renege on its national debt, suggesting that Republicans who see similarly must put the pressure on colleagues to raise the ceiling – and reach out to Democrats to forge a deal.
"Speaker Boehner has always said that the United States will not default on its debt, but if we're going to raise the debt limit, we need to deal with the drivers of our debt and deficits," Mr. Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, said, in a written statement.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that Mr. Boehner has been meeting quietly with lawmakers and forging closed-door agreements to muster support for a debt ceiling increase that crosses party lines.
"This needs to be a big bipartisan deal," said Rep. Tom Cole, after a Thursday lunch meeting with Mr. Boehner, in The Post. "This is much more about the debt ceiling and a larger budget agreement than it is about Obamacare."
Behind-the-scenes talk on Capitol Hill is that Mr. Boehner is even willing to jump over the heads of Republicans who are reluctant to raise the debt ceiling and reach out to Democrats for the necessary votes.
A lawmaker who declined to be named in The Post said that Mr. Boehner said he would disregard objections from fellow party members and use Democrats to pass the debt ceiling hike — even if that brought fury and outrage upon his head. One of Mr. Boehner's aides denied the speaker was considering that option, however.
Treasury officials have warned that the nation will hit its debt ceiling by Oct. 17. The nation is currently paying off nearly $17 trillion in debt — up from almost $9 trillion when President Obama took office.
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