GOP could allow 'clean' vote on raising $14.3T national debt ceiling

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) suggested Tuesday that Republicans may allow a clean vote on raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling in order to demonstrate that it lacks the votes to advance through Congress absent reforms. 

"If it is necessary for us to tell the president that it is dead on arrival in the House, I believe that we can do that," Cantor said following a Republican conference meeting. 

President Obama and congressional Democrats have demanded a "clean" vote on raising the debt limit, but Republicans say it must be combined with spending cuts and reforms. 

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Some Democrats also have suggested they would oppose raising the debt ceiling without corresponding spending cuts or reforms. Polls suggest voters overwhelmingly disapprove of raising the debt ceiling, even though the administration and some third-party observers have warned failing to do so could critically injure the economy. 

A decision to allow a clean vote on raising the debt ceiling does post some political risk to Republicans, but it could be risky for House Democrats to vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling without any spending cuts. 

Cantor, who sets the floor schedule for House Republicans, rejected the idea of raising the debt ceiling without real cuts to spending and accompanying reforms. He said the White House wants to raise the nation's ability to borrow without cutting spending.

"I think that what we've heard from the president as well as a number of Democrats here in the House is that they'd like us to just go ahead and increase the nation's credit limit without any changes," Cantor said. 

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), the author of a letter urging Republican leaders to allow such a clean vote, condemned Cantor's move as a "political stunt." Republicans should detail what their demands are in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling before hoting a vote on a clean alternative, Welch said.

"The real question is: What is Mr. Cantor’s price for preserving America’s full faith and credit?" Welch asked. “Mr. Cantor should show his cards now rather than playing political games.

Updated 1:31 p.m.