Democrats who lead the Senate are expected this week to take up a debt ceiling bill that would not include any policy changes or spending cuts demanded by Republicans, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.
Senate Majority Leader Reid could file the so-called "clean" debt ceiling bill as early as Monday, the aide said.
That could lead to a first key procedural vote taking place by Friday. Democrats are uncertain how many Senate Republicans might vote with them, but at least six are expected to be needed to give Democrats the 60 votes required to clear procedural hurdles.
Most Senate Republicans would shy away from a bill that doesn't specify spending cuts or other policy changes in return for the increased borrowing authority. Democrats are hopeful some Republicans would vote across the aisle to prevent the potentially catastrophic economic repercussions of a default.
If the Senate were to pass a clean bill, it would increase pressure on the GOP-controlled House to do the same. However, Republican House leaders made clear they will insist on concessions from Democrats before agreeing to raise the debt ceiling.
How long the increase is expected to last has not been determined, the leadership aide said. One source said it would last a year; another said it could last a bit longer, taking it past the 2014 election
If Republicans require all the time-consuming steps available to them to delay action on the debt bill, a final vote might not take place October 15th, the Democratic aide said. That's two days before Oct. 17, the deadline for when the government is expected to bump up against the debt ceiling, meaning the Treasury Department will be unable to borrow money to pay the nation's bills as they continues to rack up.