But the rank and file in both parties want to make it very clear to their leaders what will fly on the floor, when it’s necessary to find a majority of 218 House votes. Democrats say they expect that Republican Speaker Boehner will need at least 100 votes from Democrats to pass a debt deal. That, they say, gives them some clout.
“The know-nothing wing of the Republican Party is going to vote against a debt ceiling agreement no matter what is in it,” says Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) of Virginia, alluding to freshmen Republicans who campaigned on a pledge to never raise the debt ceiling. “Speaker Boehner is going to need the Democratic caucus to pass this. That means that, whether he likes it or not, taxes are on the table.”
From the start of the debt talks, Boehner has said that tax increases are off the table, because it hurts jobs to raise taxes when the economy is struggling to recover from a recession. At a press briefing on Friday, he said that his aim from the start of the process was “the big deal that would fundamentally solve our spending problem and our debt problem in the near to medium term.”
“But at the end of the day, we’ve got to have a bill that we can pass through the House and the Senate,” he added. “In all honesty, I don’t think this problem has narrowed at all in the last several days.”
Back in the days when she was House speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D) of California was the president’s essential partner on Capitol Hill, but as the House minority leader recently has been less a presence in closed White House negotiating sessions, displaced by Boehner.