A plan by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to link a debt limit increase to a repeal of cuts in military retirement benefits went up in smoke Tuesday morning when it became clear the House GOP leadership didn’t have the votes. This means that Boehner has no other choice but to bring a clean debt limit increase bill to the floor and rely on Democrats’ support to pass it.

“It’s a fact that we don’t have 218 votes,” Boehner said, “and when you don’t have 218 votes, you have nothing.”

The speaker told the media he expects all House Democrats to back the clean bill. However, Boehner needs to bring some 18 more votes to the table to get a majority. A clean bill is a huge win for Democrats who have insisted they want no strings attached when it comes to extending the nation’s borrowing authority. It is also a big victory for President Barack Obama, who has said he will not pay a ransom when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States.

Nearly three years ago, Obama and Republicans were at odds over the debt ceiling, risking a default. The ugly public battle led Standard & Poor’s to lower the U.S.’s long-term credit rating to AA-plus because of political risks and the debt burden. But Democrats won’t be throwing a party, as they were reportedly cautioned to exercise humility and “hang together.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Tuesday hinted Democrats are all in. She said in past conversations with Boehner she expressed the Democratic caucus' unwavering support for a clean bill.

“This action is consistent with the intent of our Constitution and with the best interests of the American people,” she said in a statement. “When this measure passes, Congress will state unequivocally that the full faith and credit of the United States is not in doubt.”