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Why John Boehner is determined to pass his doomed debt-ceiling bill

House Speaker John Boehner's debt-ceiling plan won't pass the Senate. Yet he is making huge efforts to ensure it passes the House – including delaying a vote Thursday – because his leadership is at stake.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio takes part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 28, to discuss the debt crisis showdown.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday expended a tremendous amount of time and energy on a debt-ceiling bill that is doomed to fail, because his credibility as leader of the House depends upon it. If Mr. Boehner can't marshal his Republicans to back him on this crucial vote, he risks losing his leverage in the debt-ceiling endgame.

“If this were a parliamentary system, this would have been the equivalent of a no confidence vote,” says Stan Collender, a longtime federal budget analyst and partner at Qorvis Communications in Washington.

Thursday afternoon GOP leaders delayed the vote on Boehner's debt-ceiling plan – typically a sign that they have yet to find the 217 votes needed to pass the bill. Even if the Boehner plan makes it through the House, however, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada says that the has the votes to make sure it goes nowhere in the Senate. President Obama has threatened to veto it.

The bill would raise the debt ceiling by at least $2.5 trillion in two steps. Similarly, spending cuts to offset the debt-ceiling increase would be done in two steps – an initial $915 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years to be followed by another $1.8 billion in cuts to be subsequently negotiated by a bipartisan congressional panel.

House Democrats are overwhelmingly opposed to the measure, as are conservative interest groups, such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, which have been hammering House Republicans to oppose the Boehner package.


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