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GOP plan faces internal ire

The Associated Press . From left, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, participate in a news conference on Capitol Hill on  Tuesday in Washington.

The Associated Press . From left, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, participate in a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday in Washington.

WASHINGTON -- Thwarted by conservatives in his own Republican Party, House Speaker John Boehner scrambled Tuesday to secure enough GOP votes to beat a fast-closing Aug. 2 deadline and stave off the potential financial chaos of the nation's first-ever default.

At the same time, public head-butting between Democratic President Barack Obama and the Republicans showed no sign of easing. The White House declared Obama would veto the Boehner bill, even if it somehow got through the House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

For all that, it was the tea party-backed members of Boehner's own party who continued to vex him, and heavily influence the debt and deficit negotiating terms -- not to mention his chances of holding on to the speakership.

Their adamant opposition to any tax increases forced Boehner to back away from a ''grand bargain'' with Obama that might have made dramatic cuts in government spending. Yet when Boehner turned this week to a more modest cost-cutting plan, with no tax hikes, many conservatives balked again. They said the proposal lacked the more potent tools they seek, such as a constitutional mandate for balanced budgets.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, chairman of a large group of conservative Republicans, sent a tremor through the Capitol on Tuesday when he said he doubted Boehner had enough support to pass his plan today, when it is scheduled for a vote. The Boehner bill would require congressional action to raise the debt ceiling this summer, and again before the 2012 elections.

Obama strongly opposes that last requirement, arguing that it would reopen the delicate and crucial debt discussions to unending political pressure during next year's campaigns.

The president supports a separate bill, pushed by Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Democratic-controlled Senate, that would raise the debt ceiling enough to tide the government over through next year -- and the elections.

Boehner wasn't helped by an official congressional analysis late Tuesday that said his plan would produce smaller savings than originally promised -- less than $1 trillion in spending cuts over the coming decade rather than the $1.2 trillion he estimated on Monday.

Earlier, responding to the conservative Republican opposition, Boehner quickly went on Rush Limbaugh's radio show, then he began one-on-one chats with wavering Republicans on the House floor during midday roll call votes.

''He has to convince a few people,'' Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., observed dryly from a doorway.

A serious, almost dire urgency ran through Boehner's efforts. The clock was ticking down to next Tuesday's deadline to continue the government's borrowing powers and avert possible defaults on U.S. loans.