The looming vote to lift the federal debt limit marks a crucial test of strength for House Speaker John A. Boehner as his allies scrambled across Capitol Hill on Wednesday to line up votes ahead of Thursday's floor showdown.
Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, an Ohio Republican, said about 20 of Boehner's top lieutenants gathered Tuesday evening in the speaker's office to plot a path to passage. Some reluctant conservatives, many in their first term in Congress, have been slow to embrace their leader's package, hoping to hold out for more concessions from President Obama and the Democrats.
A morning meeting of the GOP caucus on Wednesday yielded some momentum for the speaker, several GOP lawmakers said.
"It was a little bit like an altar call today at conference," LaTourette said of the closed-door meeting. "There were members who stood up – they were no [votes] or undecided, and they're going to be yes [votes]. That will continue as more people come to the Lord."
Boehner needs all but two dozen of his members to ensure passage of his plan. Already, nearly a dozen Republicans have defected from the GOP leadership's plan, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), a presidential contender.