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US House Republicans Call For Short Debt Limit Increase

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are calling for a big enough increase in the country's borrowing limit so the nation can pay its bills until mid-April.

House Republican leaders said Friday the chamber would vote next week on a plan to boost the debt ceiling. The United States has already reached its current $16.4 trillion borrowing limit, but has enough money to meet its financial obligations through mid-to-late February. At that point, however, the country could run out of money to pay all of its debts and possibly default.

Until now, the House Republicans said they wanted to link an increase in the debt ceiling to steep cuts in government spending. But after a contentious debate with Congress over the debt ceiling in mid-2011, President Barack Obama says he will not negotiate again over the borrowing limit. He said this week it would be "irresponsible" to not increase the borrowing limit, to pay obligations the country has already incurred.

The House Republicans agreed on the short-term borrowing limit plan after a three-day retreat at a resort in Virginia. But they said they would not agree to a longer debt ceiling extension unless the Senate approves an annual budget, something it has not done since 2009. The House Republicans said if Congress does not agree on a budget, then lawmakers would not be paid.

The Republican call for a short-term fix is the latest chapter in lengthy sparring between the White House and Mr. Obama's political opponents in Congress over the country's burgeoning debt, sharp spending cuts set to take effect on March 1 and the annual budget for the fiscal year that started last October.

Mr. Obama, a Democrat re-elected in November, is set to be officially sworn in for his second term on Sunday at the White House, with his public inauguration at the U.S. Capitol on Monday.

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