Republicans Appear Likely to Support Debt Ceiling Increase

A few members still remain doubtful, but conservative caucus more united than usual.

This Jan. 15, 2013 file photo shows House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walking on Capitol Hill in Washington. Republican leaders scramble for votes on a stopgap debt-limit measure that would let the government keep borrowing until at least mid-May, giving up for now on trying to win spending cuts from Democrats in return.

Legislators leaning toward voting for a debt ceiling extension are the same members who broke with Boehner during fiscal cliff negotiations.

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The Republican Party appears more united that usual ahead of the Wednesday vote in the House of Representatives to raise the debt ceiling temporarily.

GOP support is coalescing around House Speaker John Boehner's proposal to increase the debt ceiling by four months in exchange for a Senate budget even among the party's most conservative members.

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Republicans had pressured Boehner to only agree to a debt ceiling hike if the White House agreed on dollar-for-dollar spending cuts, but over the weekend many said leadership had convinced them to pursue a different strategy.

Tuesday, during a meeting with the conservative members of the Republicans in the caucus, several said they were leaning toward a "yes" vote to raise the debt ceiling without any spending cuts attached.

Many who were considering casting a vote for the measure were the same members who broke with Boehner during fiscal cliff negotiations. But members said their "yes" votes came at a price, adding that they were offered an incentive at a weekend retreat in Williamsburg, Va., that sweetened the deal.

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According to GOP members, party leaders guaranteed the ardent conservatives that the caucus would produce a budget that balances the country's finances in 10 years, a feat that even Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal failed to do.

"I may be about to make one of the most difficult votes of my life," says Republican Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona. "In many ways, in 90 days, this is going to be the ultimate test of those we entrust with those leadership positions. There will be hell to pay if they squander this."

A House leadership aide confirmed that leaders reiterated their commitment to get the country's spending under control in the next decade through a budget proposal.

Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho agreed that his support hinges on GOP leaders keeping their promise to produce a debt-slashing budget in April.

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"I am an optimist... I am OK with where leadership is headed," Labrador says. "As long as they keep that promise."

Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, however, remains opposed to the legislation.

"I don't think we have 10 years to find a path to balance the budget. I think we need to move more quickly," Huelskamp noted.

Republican Rep. Justin Amash said he was still on the fence for the vote scheduled tomorrow.

"I am leaning no unless I can be persuaded to vote yes," he said.

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Meanwhile, critical outside groups are split. Club for Growth, a conservative budget super pac, has opted not to score the vote, saying they will not downgrade members who support the speaker's debt ceiling proposal. Yet, FreedomWorks, a Tea Party group, released a statement Tuesday urging members of the GOP to vote against the measure.

"This proposal is more of the same. Once again, Republican leadership is negotiating with itself to temporarily bail the big spenders out by lifting the U.S. debt limit for four months, with no immediate accompanying budget reforms or spending reductions," said Dean Clancy, a FreedomWorks spokesman, in a statement.

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