House Speaker John Boehner has made it clear to House Republicans that he will not depend on Democrats to pass legislation on the nation's debt ceiling.
Boehner met behind closed doors for more than two hours with the House GOP conference Wednesday, reports The Hill
, with Boehner pleading with them to rally around options for dealing with the nation's debt ceiling.
"I don't want to violate the so-called Hastert Rule," Boehner told them. "I don't want to have to work with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to pass something. I want us to come together as we did in January and do this as a team."
Pelosi earlier this week said if Boehner was a woman, he would be seen as the "weakest speaker in history," and noted several pieces of legislation that would not have passed without Democratic support. Further, she said, he broke the rule held by former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert that leaders should not bring up bills that the majority of the majority party does not support.
Boehner has had trouble getting Republican backing on some fiscal issues, and Wednesday warned lawmakers against repeating the "fiscal cliff" problems that occurred earlier this year. The House, lacking the votes of a majority of Republicans, was forced into passing Senate legislation allowing tax increases.
Republicans did not come to a decision during the meeting about what entitlement cuts would be demanded, or what tax code changes would be sought when dealing with the debt ceiling.
"The opinions were as diverse as you might expect them to be. The challenge will be to find that sweet spot of agreement," said Republican Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia.
The meeting came following a report from the Congressional Budget Office that said the deficit is shrinking more rapidly than expected. On Tuesday, the CBO said this year's deficit will be $642 billion, more than $200 billion less than thought three months ago. This means the country will be able to postpone taking measures to avoid hitting the debt ceiling -- totaling $16.4 trillion -- until October or November.
However, Republicans said they want to act by this summer in hopes of negotiating with Democrats toward a budget bill.
Boehner has said he is sticking behind a principle he determined in 2011, that increases in the debt limit must be accompanied by equivalent or greater cuts.
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