Boehner Will Join House Dems in Giving Obama A Clean Debt Limit Bill

By Susan Jones | February 11, 2014 | 11:35 AM EST

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) (AP File Photo)

( - House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he doesn't have 218 votes to pass debt ceiling legislation with conditions attached, as he and some other Republicans wanted to do.

So he'll bring a "clean" debt ceiling bill to the House floor -- and let Democrats give President Obama what he wants.

"Understand, it's the president driving up the debt -- the president not wanting to do nothing about the debt that's occurring, will not engage in our long-term spending problem -- and so let his party give him the debt ceiling increase that he wants."

Boehner told a news conference on Tuesday that Republicans are asking, "'Why should I deal with his (Obama's) debt limit?' And so the fact is -- we'll let the Democrats put the votes up."

Boehner and other Republican leaders reportedly had been considering various attachments to the debt ceiling legislation, most recently a provision that would repeal planned cuts to military pensions. But disagreement among the Republican rank-and-file -- some of whom objected to the debt ceiling increase -- scuttled those plans.

Even if every Democrat votes for the clean debt ceiling bill, as Boehner expects them to do, he still needs 18 Republicans to vote for passage: "I'll be one of them," he said.

"Listen, this is a lost opportunity for America," Boehner said, adding that everyone in Washington knows the nation is on an "unsustainable" spending trajectory.

"And it has to be dealt with. And so it's a disappointing moment -- I can tell you that."

The speaker left the news conference singing "Zippety Doo-Dah," but the smile on  his face seemed forced.

A vote is expected either today or tomorrow.