On Tuesday, in a rushed vote in advance of a snowstorm due to hit the Eastern Seaboard, Congress voted 221-201 to avoid the possibility of default and allow the Treasury to continue borrowing in 2015. Only 28 Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner who cast a rare floor vote, supported the clean debt increase while only two Democrats joined the bulk of House Republicans in opposing it.
With the federal government due to hit its borrowing limit at the end of the month and Congress due to be on recess for the next two weeks, the clock was ticking for legislative action to avoid potential default. President Obama had long signalled his opposition to signing a debt limit increase with any conditions attached while House Republicans have long sought to use the once relatively routine procedural vote as political leverage.
Early Tuesday morning though, Boehner realized only a clean bill would pass as there was no way that the Speaker could get 218 votes out of the GOP caucus to support any increase and he had no carrots to dangle that could lure over conservative Democrats to support a debt limit with a rider attached.