House Speaker John Boehner is telling fellow Republicans he won't allow the United States to default on its debt — even if it takes Democratic votes to do so.
Boehner has been meeting with Republicans privately as he and other GOP leaders try to come up with a plan to end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt limit, Bloomberg News and The New York Times reported Thursday
Party leaders are trying to package other Republican priorities with a debt-ceiling increase for a vote as soon as next week.
"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," Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said in a statement. "That's why we need a bill with cuts and reforms to get our economy moving again."
Republicans have a 232-200 majority in the House, meaning the party can lose 15 votes from party members and still prevail on any measure without Democratic support.
The New York Times quoted one unnamed lawmaker as saying Boehner indicated he'd be willing to violate the Hastert Rule to pass a debt-limit increase — an informal policy of not bringing to the floor any measure that doesn’t have a majority of Republican votes.
Some GOP members were on board with the plan.
"Hurricane Sandy, the fiscal cliff, all of the big votes require reasonable Republicans and Democrats to come together in order to pass it and get it to the president's desk," Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., told The Times. "This will be no different."
"I've been there in the past, and I'm prepared to be there again."
Rep. Leonard Lance, a New Jersey Republican who met privately with Boehner on Wednesday, told The Times: "The speaker of the House does not want to default on the debt of the United States, and I believe he believes in Congress as an institution, and I certainly believe he is working for the best interests of the American people."
Last month, Boehner outlined a debt-limit increase strategy that also included lighter regulations, cuts in entitlement programs, and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia and Mo Brooks of Alabama, said the plan didn't do enough to cut spending, and Boehner shelved it in favor of focusing on a bill to fund the government and curb the Affordable Care Act.
But Boehner’s efforts to satisfy spending hard-liners risks losing the support of Republicans such as Peter King of New York and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who support a stopgap spending bill with no strings attached.
On several fiscal issues, including the 2011 debt-limit increase and the lapse of tax cuts at the end of 2012, Boehner united Republicans around partisan bills to set a party position and then allowed a bipartisan vote on final deals reached by senators of both parties and President Obama.
The government will run out of borrowing authority Oct. 17, the Treasury Department says, and a cash balance will run out between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The Treasury Department issued a report Thursday saying the effects of failing to raise the debt ceiling would be catastrophic and could start a deep recession. The president drove home that message in a speech Thursday to construction workers in Rockville, Md., The Times reported.
"As reckless as a government shutdown is, as many people as are being hurt by a government shutdown, an economic shutdown that results from default would be dramatically worse," Obama said, adding a default would be "the height of irresponsibility," and saying "there will be no negotiations over this."
"The United States is the center of the world economy," Obama said, "so if we screw up, everybody gets screwed up — the whole world will have problems."
Bloomberg contributed to this report.
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