|STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press|
Until changing course, Republicans had been threatening to demand dollar-for-dollar spending cuts to match the increase in the nation's borrowing limit.
At issue is the U.S. debt _ nearly
The House passed the measure Wednesday by a 285-144 vote, a bipartisan showing on an initiative brought by majority Republicans. The Democratic-controlled
Raising the debt ceiling once occurred largely as a matter of legislative course. But in 2011, a fight over the borrowing limit led to the first downgrading of the U.S. debt in the country's history, despite a last-minute deal that saw both Obama and the Republican opposition give ground.
If the debt cap is not raised, the government would default on its obligations by as early as
With the debt ceiling issue back front and center in
Republicans had been threatening to use Congressional power over the federal budget to exact spending cuts from the Obama administration and Democrats that would equal the increase in the so-called debt ceiling. Republican budget cutters have long targeted the social safety net programs:
But the Republican leadership in the House decided to step back from an immediate confrontation by suspending the required approval of raising the debt limit until
The legislation does not set a specific debt limit. It would automatically increase the limit by the amount required to fund U.S. government obligations through that date.
Even before his inauguration earlier this week, Obama rejected Republican threats not to approve raising the borrowing limit, saying he would not allow the opposition to "hold hostage" the "full faith and credit" of
The House Republicans' legislation was also designed to prod Senate Democrats to pass a budget after almost four years of failing to do so. It calls for withholding the pay of lawmakers in either the House or
On Sunday, Democratic Sen.
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