Report: Boehner Willing to Buck Conservatives on Debt Ceiling

Speaker may be willing to break the so-called Hastert rule

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

House Speaker John Boehner speaks to members of the media after meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Oct. 2, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner has indicated to colleagues that he won’t let the country default on its debt, even if it means going against the rank-and-file of his conservative caucus on raising the debt ceiling, the New York Times reports.

The Times, citing multiple House Republicans, reports that Boehner has said he’s willing to break the informal so-called Hastert rule, which calls for only bringing bills to the House floor when they have majority support from members of the majority party. Conservatives have insisted — and Boehner has echoed them publicly — that President Barack Obama and Democrats will need to make major concessions in exchange for a debt limit increase.

Boehner’s office denied that he plans to raise the nation’s borrowing cap in cooperation with Democrats and without the support of his restive Republican caucus, over which he has had little control in recent months. But a spokesman also acknowledged the need to raise the debt limit, something economists and Wall Street are increasingly warning is essential to avoid economic catastrophe. The Treasury Department says the country will reach its borrowing limit on Oct. 17

“The speaker always, always prefers to pass legislation with a strong Republican majority,” spokesman Michael Steel said. “The speaker has always been clear that a default would be disastrous for our economy. He’s also been clear that a ‘clean’ debt hike cannot pass the House. That’s why the president and Senate Democrats should drop their ‘no negotiations’ stance, and work with us on a plan to raise the debt limit in a responsible way, with spending cuts and reforms to get our economy moving again and create jobs.”