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John Boehner addresses reporters last night as Congressional leaders continued to seek an agreed deficit plan. Carolyn Kaster/AP
United States

Republicans to press new vote on lifting US's debt ceiling

A bipartisan Congress prepares for yet more gridlock, as the clock ticks down on staving off a United States default.

THE SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, is to press ahead with plans to table a vote on a Republican bill aimed at staving off a United States sovereign default next week.

Boehner, the de facto leader of the Republican Party, is set to call a vote on a revised bill – which scales down some of the spending cuts that were passed in a similar bill last week – in the hope that Democrats may come aboard and secure its passage.

Though the bill is likely to pass through the House without much difficulty – the Republicans hold a 47-seat majority in the lower house – AP reports that the bill is unlikely to survive the Senate, where 51 Democrats and two Independents are set to block it.

Even if it was to make it through both houses of Congress, the White House is almost certain to veto it – with President Barack Obama seeking a substantial increase in the debt limit so that a similar standoff does not emerge next year.

Though there had been some reports that the White House could seek to unilaterally raise the federal debt limit anyway – a power it could arguably have claimed under the 14th AmendmentPolitico said the idea had been ruled out by White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Politico also reported that Vice-President Joe Biden, who is the President of the Senate, and the Republicans’ Senate leader Mitch McConnell had been in talks over how to tackle the partisan stand-off that has so far hampered any hope of resolving the emerging crisis.

Throughout the negotiations, President Obama has remained on the sidelines – leading Carney to ask reporters whether they expected Obama to recreate a “President Bartlet moment”, referring to a scene from The West Wing where the Democrat president walks to the Capitol Building for a face-to-face budget showdown.

The New York Times said one reporter had bluntly replied: “Yes.”

It is thought that the United States will reach its legally-imposed debt limit – of $14.3 trillion (around €9.9 trillion) – by next Tuesday. If this occurs, the US will not be able to borrow any further and will have to begin defaulting on its existing loans.

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