US House Republicans back 3-month debt limit increase

The House of Representatives will vote next week to temporarily raise the US debt limit for three months, the chamber's leadership said Friday as Republicans leaned toward resolving a protracted fiscal impasse.

The move would help defuse a time bomb that Congress and the White House face in late February with the nation hitting its debt ceiling, looming automatic federal spending cuts, and debate over the budget.

"Next week, we will authorize a three-month temporary debt limit increase to give the Senate and House time to pass a budget," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a statement.

"If the Senate or House fails to pass a budget in that time, members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job. No budget, no pay," he added.

"It's time to come together and get to work," Cantor said.

President Barack Obama has repeatedly said he will not negotiate on extending US borrowing capacity and has called on Congress to raise the limit so the government can meet its obligations.

"We are not a deadbeat nation," a stern-faced Obama insisted Monday, calling the Republican threats irresponsible and "absurd."

The latest move -- announced at the end of a two-day Republican retreat outside Washington -- is seen by some officials as a concession and a sign of the pressure House Republicans face over the prospect of sending the government into default.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it was "reassuring" to see the Republicans "back off their threat to hold our economy hostage.

"If the House can pass a clean debt ceiling increase to avoid default and allow the United States to meet its existing obligations, we will be happy to consider it," Reid said in a statement.

"This issue is too important to middle class families' economic security to use as a ploy for collecting a ransom."

Congressman Paul Ryan, the powerful House Budget Committee chairman and Mitt Romney's losing vice presidential nominee, backed the proposal but insisted the Senate pass a budget that gives priority to how taxpayer dollars are spent.

Any deal to temporarily raise the debt ceiling "rests on the recognition that our challenge is twofold: We have to pay our bills today, and we have to make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow," Ryan said.

"To achieve both ends, we must cut spending and budget responsibly."

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