Senate could clear debt bill Wednesday

The Senate could vote on a bill to extend the nation's debt ceiling on Wednesday, a leadership aide said.

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The House is voting Tuesday evening on an extension through March 15, 2015, of the nation's borrowing authority. The bill would allow the Treasury Department to issue new debt totaling hundreds of billions of dollars above the current $17.2 trillion limit.

House GOP leaders have decided to bow to Democratic demands that the debt ceiling increase be "clean" and free of any policy changes. The decision was made after leaders failed to get 218 votes in the GOP conference for any partisan debt-ceiling proposal.

Conservative groups are up in arms over the decision, with the Senate Conservatives Fund calling for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to lose his job.

A winter storm that's expected to drop several inches of snow on the Washington region beginning late Wednesday is motivating the quick action.

Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told The Hill he will filibuster the bill to require 60 votes but signaled he could allow a Wednesday vote.

"Any vote on the debt ceiling has to be subject to a 60-vote threshold," Cruz said. "Under no circumstances will I consent to a 50-vote threshold."

"I think it is a terrible idea to rise the debt ceiling while providing no structural reforms to the out-of-control spending," he added. 

Other Senate Republicans also appeared unhappy with a clean increase.

"I'd prefer to get something for it," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said. "This is not going the way I would like it to."

"Am I going to vote for it? Hell no!" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said. "Isn't there some middle ground between defaulting on our debt and doing nothing to address our fiscal problems?" he asked.

--This report was updated at 2:39 p.m.