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Boehner Hasn’t Decided When to Vote on Senate Deal (Updated)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:32 p.m. | With just hours to meet the deadline to extend the debt ceiling, House leaders still haven’t decided how or when to vote on the Senate deal announced Wednesday.

“No decision has been made about how or when a potential Senate agreement could be voted on in the House,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

While that is still the official line from Boehner’s office, Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam, R-Ill., said Wednesday afternoon that GOP members would meet as a group at 3 p.m. and that a vote on the finalized Senate agreement would likely come Wednesday night.

Roskam declined to speculate on when that vote might occur, saying: “Your guess is as good as mine.”

Senate Democratic leaders indicated their chamber could vote sometime Wednesday afternoon.

A GOP aide familiar with ongoing conversations confirmed that Boehner is prepared to put on the floor the bipartisan Senate bill that would extend the nation’s borrowing authority through early February and reopen the government through mid-January.

Earlier on Wednesday, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, appeared on Bloomberg TV and said it was also his understanding that the House would take up the Senate’s proposal.

“[Boehner] has made it clear that if an agreement is made in the Senate, it will come to vote in a very timely way,” Brady said, offering the caveat that he had “not talked to the speaker.”

There had been some discussion that the House might move the compromise package first to accelerate the process for passing a bill in the Senate.

Though Boehner risks losing a good number of votes from his conference should he move forward with the Senate bill, it could be the only way at this point to avoid default.

Over the weekend it looked likely that the House was prepared to wait on the Senate as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made progress on negotiations. Those discussions came to a halt, however, when House Republicans announced Tuesday that they were prepared to make a last-ditch effort to advance legislation aimed at squeezing out of the Obama administration at least some concessions relating to the 2010 health care law.

The conservative wing of the House Republican Conference, however, rebelled against proposed language that didn’t take a hard enough stance against Obamacare. Leadership tried to assuage those concerns but ultimately made the decision to pull the bill from pending consideration by the Rules Committee at the eleventh hour. Heritage Action for America had already said it would key vote the proposed measure.

House Democrats pledged to withhold all votes on the emerging House proposal, ensuring defeat should the few dozen hard-line Republicans refuse to vote “yes.” Even if the House Republicans were able to pass the bill, it would not survive in the Senate or at the White House.

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, emerged from Boehner’s office on Tuesday night saying, “We will be prepared tomorrow to make some decisions.”

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.

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