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John Boehner
With GOPers defecting, Speaker Boehner
will need Democratic votes to raise
debt limit (Reuters/Larry Downing)
 
The Hill reports 10 Republican senators have vowed to oppose an increase in the debt limit without massive spending cuts and Congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment. That's not going to happen, so the pledge is effectively the same thing as opposing any increase in the debt limit whatsoever.

It's not just Republican senators who are taking this position, however. Politico notes 10 House Republicans have joined their senatorial colleagues, along with several candidates and conservative organizations affiliated with the tea party. In all, 40 individuals and organizations signed the pledge.

Because the pledge sets an unrealistic condition for raising the debt limit, it's functionally equivalent to a statement of opposition to raising the debt limit. Because 10 House Republicans have signed it, it means John Boehner has virtually no margin for error if he wants to pass a debt limit increase through the House with no Democratic votes.

There are now 239 GOP members of the House. With three seats vacant and Gabrielle Giffords still recovering, it will take 216 votes to pass something through the House if all members vote. That means if another 13 House Republican take the pledge (I'd be shocked if they don't), Boehner will need to find support from House Democrats to get a debt limit bill out of the chamber.

With members of his own party in the early stages of a stampede toward irrelevancy, Boehner needs to start figuring out how he's going to win enough Democratic votes to raise the debt ceiling—and he needs to start doing so now.

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