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House Republican Leaders Said to Weigh Short-Term Debt Measure

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner
Any prospective deal faces questions, including whether U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, can come to an agreement with President Barack Obama and not lose the support of his hardline members. Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Republican and Senate Democratic leaders are open to a short-term increase in the debt limit, said congressional aides of both parties who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss strategy. The steps mark the first movement toward averting a U.S. default.

Republicans haven’t decided how long an extension they would support or whether it would include policy conditions and how to advance it through the House, a House Republican aide said.

Senate Democratic leaders would be open to a short-term increase in the U.S. debt ceiling, a Senate Democratic aide said today on condition of anonymity to discuss private talks. Democrats would insist that any proposal wouldn’t impose budget conditions.

If Republicans move toward a vote, they’re choosing an option President Barack Obama opened yesterday, when he said he would accept a short-term debt limit increase and then enter broader fiscal negotiations with Republicans.

The potential fight would be over Obama’s insistence that he wouldn’t agree to tie policy conditions to raising the debt limit. Republicans have been talking about attaching a long list of party priorities, such as cuts in entitlement programs, changes to the 2010 health care law and approval of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline, to a debt-ceiling increase.

If the U.S. doesn’t raise the debt limit by Oct. 17, the country’s borrowing authority will lapse. The government will have $30 billion plus income revenues to pay its bills and would miss scheduled payments between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The U.S. government has been in a partial shutdown since Oct. 1.

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