On debt limit, Reid credits Boehner for ‘doing the right thing’

Some conservative members of Congress claimed raising the debt ceiling last fall was a non-issue, but would still not compromise. (Julie Percha/The Washington Post)

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) praised the upcoming House vote on a "clean" debt-ceiling package and suggested that House Republican leaders should next hold a similar vote on immigration reform.

"Defaulting on the (debt) obligation of this country would absolutely be wrong," Reid told reporters, adding that he is encouraged by the decision of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring to the floor a bill that would lift the country's borrowing limit without extracting spending cuts.

"I commend Speaker Boehner for doing the right thing." Reid said. "We hope this commonsense approach will continue throughout the year so we can actually get some things done."

Reid said that if the measure passes the House, the Senate will move quickly to approve the deal.

"Boehner has said he's going to pass a clean vote. If they do that, I'm confident that we'll move over here as quickly as it can," he said, before cautioning: "But I put nothing past the tea party-driven Republican House."

The majority leader said that, once a debt-ceiling increase is passed, the Republican House should bring an immigration reform bill -- the prospects of which seem stalled -- to the floor for an up-down vote.

"This is the way things should work," Reid said.

House Republican leaders told members Tuesday morning that it was clear they could not gather enough support to pass a debt-limit bill that involved extracting concessions in the form of spending cuts. 

The House has scheduled a Tuesday night vote for the bill, which, if it passes, would avert a last-minute showdown over the debt ceiling.

Asked about the impending vote on a clean debt-ceiling bill during the Senate minority leadership's weekly news conference, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said little.

"Well, obviously the House is supposed to vote later today, and once that comes over we'll have a discussion about how to move forward," he said.

"We'll see how it plays out in the Senate," McConnell said, refusing to expand on how the Senate would handle a debt-ceiling bill. "It looks to me like we'll find out in the next couple of days how this is going to be handled in the Senate."

Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.

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