House Rules Committee votes to give Boehner “maximum flexibility” to alter debt limit bill

Short of votes to past the current version of House Speaker John Boehner's bill to raise the debt limit, Republicans on the Rules Committee voted to give their leader “maximum flexibility” to bring any negotiated changes to the House floor immediately.

“We were expecting a vote this evening, but obviously the votes weren't there,” Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., said as midnight approched. In order to make sure Congress is able to meet the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling, Dreier said the committee needed to give Boehner so-called “same day authority” that allows him to alter the bill as needed to win over the remaining votes, without having to go through the Rules Committee process each time.

Democrats on the committee seized on reports that the reason Republican leadership didn't have enough votes was that conservative members were opposed to the new money for Pell grants. They accused Republicans of blaming students for the nation's debt woes.

“As of right now, it's apparent we don't have the votes for a number of reasons,” Dreier said, declining to address the Pell grants issue. He said there were “different issues for different members.”

Rep. Jim McGovern blasted the Republicans' procedural move, calling it a “martial law rule.” He said Dreier himself used to refer to it that way.

“That's when I was in the minority,” Dreier responded candidly, to laughter.

The rule was agreed to 8 to 4.

The House is scheduled to open at 9 a.m. tomorrow, with no votes expected earlier than 11 a.m.

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