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Boehner throws in the towel on the debt limit

February 4, 2014, at 1:56 PM

Just days away from the deadline to extend the nation's borrowing limit, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told House Republicans in a private meeting not to fight it, according to Roll Call.

Said Boehner: "There's no sense picking a fight we can't win."

Despite calls from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to insist on concessions from President Obama, Boehner knows it's not possible without risking default on the nation's debt.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew set a deadline of Friday to pass a bill. He said that otherwise he would need to take "extraordinary measures" to stretch out the current borrowing authority until the end of the month.

The problem now for Boehner is that, like with so many other issues, Republicans do not have a majority to coalesce around any one plan. They're a bitterly divided party. They've held two rounds of private talks as a party but came up empty both times.

The reality is that Boehner may need to rely on Democrats to get the 218 votes needed hike the debt ceiling and avoid default.

Which, of course, is fine with some Republicans.

Rep. Paul Labrador (R-Idaho) told Slate, "I think we should just let the Democrats own the debt ceiling."

But with that concession, Republicans also give up claim to being considered a party serious about dealing with the tough issues facing the country.

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