WASHINGTON -- House Republican leaders abandoned plans Wednesday morning to tie either of their preferred policy demands to a hike of the nation's debt ceiling. But even as they struggled to find an approach that could win the support of enough members of their own caucus, they made no overtures to try and secure support from the other side of the aisle.
Aides to both House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) confirmed that the two offices have not talked about a legislative deal on the debt ceiling.
"We have not reached out to the Democratic leadership," a Boehner aide said. A Pelosi aide confirmed that she had not heard from Boehner.
The lack of communication suggests that Republican leaders are still hoping to pass a bill with either exclusively GOP support, or with the backing of predominantly Republicans and just a handful of Democrats. What such a bill would look like at this juncture is anyone's guess.
GOP leadership let it be known on Wednesday morning that they could not get 218 Republican members to commit to a debt ceiling hike that included language authorizing the construction of the southern part of the Keystone XL pipeline or one that eliminated the risk corridors provision in the Affordable Care Act. The impediment, according to reports, was that the measures didn't go far enough.
By Wednesday afternoon, Politico's Jake Sherman was reporting that House Republican leadership was considering attaching a nine-month "doc-fix" to the debt ceiling hike, which would lift Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors. The Washington Post's Robert Costa, meanwhile, was reporting that Boehner was warming up to a provision that would reverse a cut to the cost-of-living reductions for military pensions included in the recently passed budget deal.
The floating of both those provisions gave off the strong scent that Boehner does in fact recognize that he will need Democratic votes. (It stands to reason that other measures will be attached to the bill to keep Republican members placated as well.) But if that is the case, the speaker is pursuing a more bipartisan bill without making the person-to-person sales pitch to Pelosi.
The debt ceiling will be officially hit on Feb. 7, though the Treasury Department has said that it can use extraordinary measures to keep the country from defaulting on its obligations until the end of the month.