POLITICS
09/26/2013 07:17 pm ET | Updated Sep 27, 2013

Republican Leaders Don't Have The Votes For Their Own Hostage Plan

WASHINGTON -- House Republican leaders rolled out their latest gambit to use the nation's debt limit to extract concessions from Democrats, but they may have spoken too soon.

Numerous members of the GOP conference emerged from their weekly closed-door meeting Thursday expressing confidence in a bill that would seek numerous cuts and legislative changes in return for raising the country's $16.7 trillion borrowing cap. They said a vote could be scheduled swiftly, with an Oct. 17 deadline looming.

But reports surfaced later in the day, as members thought the plan over, that there might not be enough votes in the fractious Republican caucus to pass it.

Leadership sources told HuffPost that such reports were "premature," but acknowledged they were "still talking to members, still listening to concerns."

"I'd guess we need more votes," one said.

But they also contended that news that the debt bill was being delayed was inaccurate, since a vote had never been scheduled in the first place.

Still, earlier in the day, rank-and-file members seemed to believe that a bill would be put forth quickly. They acknowledged that using the debt limit as leverage was risky, but said it was a worthwhile plan.

Part of the problem could be that the House is still waiting for the Senate to pass the continuing resolution, or bill to keep the government funded, that has been tied up in the upper chamber by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and several other tea party darlings. The House is using the bill to try and defund Obamacare, but the Senate is set to remove all such provisions.

That leaves House Republicans unable to decide whether to try and kill the health care law again via the continuing resolution -- with the money currently funding the government running out Monday -- or put all their chips in the debt measure. There are also Republicans who question the wisdom of taking the debt limit hostage, since the consequences are predicted to be dire.

House leaders said Thursday night that the House would be in session throughout the weekend to deal with the fiscal showdowns.

If the House plan disintegrates, it wouldn't be the first time. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has had to walk a tightrope for more than two years now, balancing more moderate members against his determined tea party contingent and resulting in several false starts on major bills.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

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