Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has agreed to allow a vote in the House on the emerging Senate debt-ceiling deal, according to a Senate source.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were racing Wednesday to put the finishing touches on the deal ahead of Thursday’s deadline for raising the $16.7 trillion debt limit.
The draft of the Senate agreement would raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, reopen the government until Jan. 15 and form a budget conference to resolve the automatic spending cuts under sequestration.
“The Speaker will bring that bill to the House floor,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told Bloomberg television Wednesday morning.
It’s unclear whether the House or Senate will vote first on the agreement.
Starting in the House could speed passage in the Senate, but a senior House GOP leadership aide said the order of votes remains up in the air.
“No decision has been made about how or when a potential Senate agreement could be voted on in the House,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner.
Lawmakers are racing against the clock to meet Thursday’s debt-ceiling deadline, when the Treasury Department says the nation’s borrowing authority will be exhausted.
The credit rater Fitch on Tuesday said it was putting the U.S. on watch for a possible downgrade, creating a sense of urgency for getting legislation to President Obama’s desk.
The stock market surged as signs emerged that Washington would find a way to avoid the nation’s first-ever debt default. The Dow Jones Industrial Index rose by over 190 points in late-morning trading.
It remains to be seen whether Boehner will have significant Republican support for the Senate deal, or be forced to rely on House Democrats to pass it.
Boehner made a last-ditch attempt on Tuesday to pass a rival budget plan, but was forced to pull back after it was clear he could not muster enough Republican support.
A GOP aide suggested House Republican efforts to move their own bill were over.
“I don’t know that there’s any tweaking that can be done to this plan to make it more viable,” a GOP leadership aide said.
Approving a deal with mostly Democratic votes would be a blow to Boehner, who has been forced repeatedly to accept legislation from the Senate after struggling to unify his conference.
It would also bring a remarkable end to the budget fight that has divided Republicans since the summer and sent the party’s poll numbers plunging to record lows.
“Our numbers have gone down,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters Wednesday. “ObamaCare’s somehow have mysteriously gone up. And other than that, this has been great.”
While the final details of the Senate agreement are not known, it appears that Republicans will capitulate on most of their demands for changes to ObamaCare.
The deal would also end the 16-day-old government shutdown, which began on Oct. 1 after Democrats rejected the conservative push to defund the healthcare law and demanded passage of a “clean” bill with no strings attached.
The Senate could act quickly on the budget deal, but only if conservatives like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) give their consent.
Conservative lawmakers appeared resigned to passage of the Senate agreement on Wednesday and were already turning their attention to the next fiscal deadline.
“If we have to wait and fight those issues later, that may be where this is headed,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “We think this argument is a powerful one, and we will continue to make it.”
Bernie Becker and Peter Schroeder contributed.
— This story was last updated at 11:38 a.m.