Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Boehner: ‘No Sense Picking a Fight We Can’t Win’ on Debt Limit (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:28 p.m. | Just days away from the administration’s deadline to extend the nation’s borrowing authority, Speaker John A. Boehner told House Republicans he sees no reason to pick a fight they cannot win on the issue.

“There’s no sense picking a fight we can’t win,” the Ohio Republican told members in a private conference meeting, according to sources in the room.

Leadership has been looking for a plan that could draw Republican support for a debt limit increase, and Boehner urged his members to coalesce around a plan. If they do not, he warned, the Senate could move first and tack a provision to a debt limit hike that is unpopular among Republicans, such as an extension of unemployment insurance benefits.

Boehner’s comments come on the House’s second day back in Washington, D.C., following Republicans’ annual retreat. Members discussed tacking several measures to a debt limit increase to draw Republican support, from a balanced budget amendment to a measure to spur the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to a repeal of a measure in the health care law that mitigates risk for insurance companies.

“There’s a lot of opinions about how to deal with the debt limit. No decisions have been made,” Boehner told reporters after the conference meeting. “The goal here is to increase the debt ceiling. No one wants to default on our debt. But while we’re doing something on this we ought to do something about either jobs or the economy [or] about the drivers of our debt.”

When asked whether any such plan could garner 218 Republican votes, Boehner said only, “We’ll see.”

If Republicans don’t come together on something, the Republicans would have to seek Democratic votes — and Democrats continue to seek a “clean” increase.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has said that Congress should act on a debt limit increase by Friday, but he also noted that the administration can take extraordinary measures to extend the deadline to as late as the end of the month.

  • Ax2root

    Repubs may as well put up billboards…..not moving forward is falling backward

  • left wing

    boehner, the dem posing as a pub and doing as much damage to the pubs as possible.

  • leehardy

    Boehner’s life time sun tans have obviously fried his brain as his capitulations and acquiescing with his bowing and scraping defeatist attitude certainly spells victory for the Marxist Democratic party controlling the Senate and if not careful with take over the House next time around…This collective Geriatric Congress is absolutely disgusting in their absolute neglect of the American citizens and their needs starting with sealing the Southern Borders and routing the illegals..No other country in the world allows illegals to swarm in for 60 years uncontrolled and unchecked so that even student visas or any other visas do not seem even necessary in America…Boehner and his geriatric cohorts have severely damaged American Republican party.

    • mabramso

      Well, the last time the GOP did this, they ended up with no progress and a lot of ticked off citizens. Insanity has been defined by some as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The bottom line is that the GOP simply do not the numbers to overturn a Presidential veto or even get by the Senate. The problem with going the route of short-sighted tea partiers (who I can definitely sympathize with!) is that when bad consequences occur (which they will), voters will blame the GOP, not the Democrats (fair or not), and frankly, I want the Dems to completely own this come election time, when the GOP has an outside shot at double-digit Senate gains — after which they will have a MUCH stronger negotiating hand.

  • Dood_Ah

    Boehner is merely stating the obvious. But his base will force him to make some sort of showing. The problem is he is being pinched between the Wall Street donors who frown on this sort of brinkmanship and the Tea Party which loves that sort of thing. IMO, he’ll go with whatever side pays the GOP more money and I suspect that is the Wall Street folks. Dems know this and know they can wait out the Repubs easily. Hard to start making ransom demands when you are unwilling to keep the hostage.

    • John Smith

      The Tea Party doesn’t “love this sort of thing”. I guess it is now fringe to want us to taper back on deficit spending. No I don’t “love this sort of thing”, I don’t want my children to be taxed at 90% the rest of their lives. This gravy train comes to an end sooner or later.

      • Dood_Ah

        Mr. Smith,

        If the Tea Party doesn’t love telling our creditors to stuff it, then why do they keep telling their politicians to do it?
        The deficit has been falling rather rapidly. You’re thinking of the debt. Different things.
        You are not taxed at 90%. No one has been since the time of FDR and it is unlikely your children will be.

        By refusing to raise the debt limit you are saying to our nation’s creditors that you won’t pay what’s owed. If you want to pay down the debt, stop the Pentagon gravy train.

        Yes, you guys are the fringe. You don’t understand what is happening and you have demonstrated you don’t understand the terms you are using. Congratulations.

        • left wing

          spending the country into bankruptcy, buying votes with taxpayer money, attacking anyone who disagrees is far left dem way of life. get your check from the DNC yet this week?

      • Doug

        The best option that Boehner has is to bring the debt ceiling bill up for vote; then all of the Republicans vote “present”.

        The same thing in the Senate.

        There has to be a quorum, but don’t vote for it.

  • VinnyFromIndy

    As Boehner just offered, the GOP really does not care at all about the TWO MILLION laid off America workers and their families that have been thrown off of unemployment. A good portion of these folks are, or rather, used to be Republicans. There is not a shadow of a doubt that it is the Republicans that are doing this to these millions of people. Make no mistake! These people are in dire straits as they get eviction notices, their cars repossessed and electricity, gas and water shut off.

    There is no quicker or surer way to convert a conservative into a liberal than by having the conservative and his/her family getting crushed under the boot heel of the Republican Party. When conservatives are on the receiving end of the GOP, they become Democrats. And, rightfully so!

    • Layla

      Closer to 50 to 90 million Americans are no longer in the jobs market.

    • left wing

      wow, the policies of the dems that continue to kill the economy have nothing to do with the people out of work. and obama NO CARE wiping out another 2.5 million. you should try for some facts and quit taking DNC money to troll the forums.

    • mabramso

      If I found myself in that position, I certainly wouldn’t be blaming it on my loss of unemployment compensation — I would be blaming the administration for failing to do ANYTHING useful on jobs and the economy, which put me in the position to begin with.

      • VinnyFromIndy

        No, you wouldn’t. As you and your family were wondering why the car was no longer in the driveway because it got repossessed last night while you slept and the gas co. service van shows up to turn your gas off in February, you will blame Republicans for not extending your UI benefits. That is especially true because for many hundreds of thousands of Americans on UI, it was inconceivable that the GOP would have blocked the passage of a renewal since they had given GW Bush FIVE renewals with no debate or endless demands for passage. You can sit here and lie, even to yourself, if that is your pleasure, but 99.9% of the MILLIONS of Americans that are, right now as I type this, having the financial crisis of their lives, they blame Republicans. And, rightfully so!

        • mabramso

          Wow, your arrogance is astonishing! You can read minds and know more about me than I do! LOL. What absolute BS.

          Yeah, those 99% of millions of Americans blame the GOP so much that they all went out and voted out their GOP representatives! Oh wait! That never happened — the house is still controlled by the GOP (and rather easily, I might add). Obama has had FIVE years, and two of those FIVE, his agenda was COMPLETELY unimpeded.

          • VinnyFromIndy

            By the November elections, the number of laid off workers that have exhausted their benefits will be 4.8 million. Add to that the families of these workers and you have close to ten million people that are suffering the financial crisis of their lives.

            You can sit here and build your own reality, as you modern conservatives have become quite adept at, but the fact is that the vast majority of these people will blame the GOP for their immediate pain.

            The GOP hates the American worker. It cannot get any clearer than this issue.

          • mabramso

            Rational people understand that unemployment compensation is basically a GIFT. People are not ENTITLED to federal government money just because they lose their job. The receive it on a TEMPORARY basis because of the kindness of citizens who supported the actions of their representatives in setting up the program in the first place. But it was never meant to be extended indefinitely, and 2 years is certainly long enough. As I said, if I were in that situation, I certainly would not be blaming Congress just because a jobless benefit expired after 2 years — I would be thankful that at least I got a benefit for 2 years! I would be blaming the government for not doing anything to fix the underlying problem of why I can’t find a job in TWO YEARS!

            Now for influence in November, let’s do an analysis on your 4.8 million.
            1. What percentage of them actually vote? The national turnout rate in 2010 was 37.8. I will round up to 40%.
            2. What percentage of #1 would have voted for Democrat candidates regardless. I would guess 50% (it’s probably more).
            3. Of the remaining voters, what percentage of the rest of them would actually switch from GOP to Democrat? I would guess 10%, but let’s suppose it is as high as 50%.

            4. What percentage of #2 live in states or districts that truly matter (that is, in states where races are remotely competitive)? Again, I would put that number at about 50%, though it is probably significantly lower.

            0.4*0.5*0.5*0.5*4.8 million = 240,000 people. Enough to make a difference? Perhaps, but not much of one.

          • VinnyFromIndy

            You are the reason the GOP is dying. You think you have a good bead on things when in fact you are laughably uninformed. You really have no idea how UI is funded nor do you appear to understand the basic idea of the program. You simply believe that it is the government writing checks to lazy people or something close to that.

            I hope all readers note that your concern for MILLIONS of laid off American workers and their families appears to be based solely on the political vulnerability of GOP candidates in their respective districts. You seem not care at all that millions of Americans are right now as I type this wondering how feed, clothe and house their families this month. Many of these millions of people are veterans and children. You represent the GOP quite nicely for all fair minded readers. You and the GOP hate the American worker and their families. Of course you guys are all for trillion dollar wars based on lies, but helping millions of desperate Americans – not so much! Good luck with all that!

          • mabramso

            Your dishonesty is breathtaking. It is you who are trying to mislead people by trying to relate my own political analysis based on your numbers with overall concern for people’s plights, when they have nothing whatsoever to do with each other. And you know it.

            I know full well about UI — I helped my son fill out the forms when he lost his job a couple of years ago. It is a great program that was designed to be TEMPORARY, and two years is certainly long enough as a program. there are other government programs designed to help with longer term situations. And how about cutting the crap about veterans and their children — you are talking to one.

          • Layla

            Gentlemen, Obamacare has cost this nation the loss of over 50 MILLION jobs.

            Get your figures straight, please.

        • Layla

          Republicans didn’t install a man in the White House who could not pull a profit out of a lemonade stand.

    • Layla

      Really? I thought Obamacare was doing this and I don’t believe it received ONE REPUBLICAN VOTE. Nope, this one is ALL YOURS.

  • Layla

    Mr. Boehner, when you won’t even keep your Oath of Office, Americans are not expecting you to grow a spine and protect this nation. Not happening. It is time to support your opponent.

  • michaelgingerly

    The national debt has increased by $4T since Boehner was handed the gavel in 2010. Needed: new House leadership with a spine in next Congress.

  • bpai99

    Ted Cruz and the Tea Party lunatic fanatics reject that line of reasoning entirely. Go for it!

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell

    • John Smith

      No, lunatics are people who continue to spend money by printing it indefinitely. A fiat currency that has no value and will continue to be used until the people realize it is worthless. This is when it all starts to fall apart.

      As usual the leftist throws out names and backs it with zero substance.

      • godblessusa

        “…until the people realize it is worthless. This is when it all starts to fall apart.”

        Classic survival cave politics. Say hi to the Pauls for me.

        And make sure you’ve got sufficient water, survival seeds and Glenn Beck-approved gold.

      • Jesse4

        Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.

  • John Smith

    “Leadership has been looking for a plan that could draw Republican support for a debt limit increase, and Boehner urged his members to coalesce around a plan.”

    What leadership? It requires you cowards to actually lead and stand for something.

  • Alfred Neuman

    Great Quotes in American history:

    “Give me liberty or give me death!” ~ Patrick Henry
    “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” ~ Nathan Hale
    “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
    “There’s no sense picking a fight we can’t win” ~ John Boehner

    • Jesse4

      It does sound sort of ridiculous, but there are lots of Republicans that really do need Boehner to explain that to them.

    • Layla

      Was he born in France?

  • Press Watchusa

    Boehener is doing more damage than Obama

    Boehner must be replaced by someone who works for the citizens

    He doesn’t even try to do his job!

    What’s with the orange tie – Halloween?

  • bozolives

    So helping people who lost a job is unpopular with the GOP. Good to know.

    • FredBeloit

      So bozo, I guess you can be counted on to support unemployment payments from taxpayers and/or the Chinese until the unemployed are dead, gone , but still voting.

      • bozolives

        I support people who are struggling in a really bad job market. I guess you could call that compassion for your fellow man, something that seems to be lacking in your response.

  • godblessusa

    As long as the GOP continues to hold the working poor in utter contempt, there is not a lot of fights they CAN win.

  • Mark_Melrose

    No sense in supporting Boehner. He’s as dumb as Bieber.

  • Doug

    I’m a little short. Maybe Speaker John A. Boehner will lend me a little money.

    When that is gone, I will borrow a little more from him.

    I’ll never have to work again!

  • PopTheLid

    Worst speaker ever. He needs to go, tomorrow morning

  • LadyLiberty5013

    I live in the 8th district of Ohio and I am voting Boehner OUT!! I’m tired of his crap. There is a man named Eric Gurr who is running against him this May. He has my full support.

  • earlwatters

    you can’t get out of the water if you don’t try to bring it up every dam day and you stay with it until some one listens to you and you don’t throw in the dam towel if your still standing on your feet you are one sorry excuse for a man go home and take all your rhinos with you it will be a cold day in hell before we vote for you let your state down you let your party down go suck obama

  • govskeptic

    Glad to see the Speaker has joined the President in deciding “The Peoples
    House” is just a nuisance in running this government. 1/3 of government and
    approximately 50% of voters with 0 voice is just what the Constitution meant?

  • Sanity Chick

    Mr. Boehner: Implementing policy to cap our national debt (our over-extended credit card) isn’t picking a fight. It’s called leadership.

  • Layla

    This man is not up to a fight on anything, including keeping his Constitutional Oath of Office.

    Time to vote out GOP leadership, House and Senate both.

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