With a budget deal still elusive and a deadline approaching on raising the debt ceiling, Speaker John A. Boehner has told colleagues that he is determined to prevent a federal default and is willing to pass a measure through a combination of Republican and Democratic votes, according to one House Republican.The Washington Post reports the same thing, citing GOP aides, but a Boehner spokesman told both papers that the speaker continues to oppose a "clean" debt limit increase.
The lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Boehner had indicated he would be willing to violate the so-called Hastert Rule if necessary to pass a debt-limit increase. The informal rule refers to a policy of not bringing to the floor any measure that does not have a majority of Republican votes.
Obviously, what Boehner's spokesman is saying publicly and what Boehner is supposedly saying behind closed doors can't both be true. But if Boehner plans to rely on Democrats to raise the debt limit, a clean debt limit increase is exactly what he's going to get, and that means if the reports of what he's saying privately are accurate, then Boehner is effectively admitting that he intends to fold his debt limit bluff. But even if that's true, it doesn't necessarily mean Boehner will follow through, because it wasn't that long ago that Boehner said he wasn't going to shut down the government because he'd rather have a standoff over the debt limit.