From NBC's Mark Murray and Athena Jones
While Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner are signaling to support raising the debt ceiling -- if spending cuts and entitlement reform are attached -- Democrats say they want a clean debt-ceiling vote.
"We do not need to play chicken with our economy by linking the raising of the debt ceiling to anything," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "We should do that right away."
And in a letter to House Democrats, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) writes, "We ask you to convene a caucus to discuss and establish a Democratic position in favor of a clean extension of the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling vote is about one thing: affirming that America pays its bills. It does not authorize new taxpayer obligations; it affirms to the world our commitment to pay obligations already incurred."
Welch's office says that approximately 20 House Democrats have signed on to the letter.
When First Read asked Welch's office if there are enough votes -- in either the House or Senate -- to pass a clean bill, his spokesman responded: "We’ll have to wait and see. Peter believes the stakes are too high to play the negotiating game on this issue, especially given the economic repercussions that would result in a failure to raise the debt limit."