US debt limit vote set for Wed, Barack Obama likely to sign

Jan 23 2013, 11:30 IST
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US debt limit vote set for Wed, Barack Obama likely to sign. (Reuters) US debt limit vote set for Wed, Barack Obama likely to sign. (Reuters)
SummaryA measure to extend the US debt limit for nearly four months moved closer on Tuesday.

A measure to extend the US debt limit for nearly four months moved closer on Tuesday to a vote and the White House said the president would sign the bill if it cleared Congress, easing uncertainty that could have threatened the US economy.

The debt limit "suspension," which would allow the government to borrow money until May 19, is due to come to a vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Wednesday without amendments.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas said he believed the measure would achieve "near unanimous support" from the House Republican caucus, which would guarantee its passage.

President Barack Obama "would not stand in the way of the bill becoming law," White House spokesman Jay Carney said earlier at a briefing. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has similarly expressed approval.

The administration and some Democrats made clear on Tuesday they would prefer a longer-term reprieve from having again to seek an expansion of the nation's borrowing capacity. But the White House welcomed movement on the contentious issue, which has financial markets worried about a self-engineered US debt default.

"What happened ... was a very significant development in terms of de-escalating the sense of conflict over this," Carney said.

Even a sermon delivered at a traditional prayer service at Washington's National Cathedral a day after Obama's inauguration cited the clash over the debt limit as a strain on the nation's spirit.

Reverend Adam Hamilton, a Methodist pastor from Leawood, Kansas, told the attendees, which included Obama, that "to many Americans we seem like a house divided that cannot stand" because of political bickering and discord over issues like the national debt ceiling and healthcare.

Hamilton likened the partisan rancor in Washington to the Old Testament friction between Moses and his people as he led them out of Egypt.

REPUBLICANS FALL IN LINE

The United States is on track to run out of room under its congressionally-imposed borrowing limit of $16.4 trillion sometime between mid-February and early March, and a vote to suspend the debt ceiling would take the prospect of default off the table at least temporarily.

"I'm glad we are not facing a crisis here in a matter of a few days," Reid of Nevada said.

As the debt limit bill moved through Congress on Tuesday, some lawmakers expressed concern the short-term nature of the measure would not calm jittery financial markets. The conservative group FreedomWorks urged lawmakers to oppose it, saying it failed to

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