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US May Avoid Last-Minute Borrowing Authority Showdown

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner holds a news conference, Republican National Committee offices, Washington, Oct. 23, 2013.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner holds a news conference, Republican National Committee offices, Washington, Oct. 23, 2013.
The U.S. appears on the verge of avoiding another last-minute showdown over increasing its borrowing authority.
The leader of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner, said Tuesday he would allow a vote on increasing the country's debt ceiling beyond the current $17.3 trillion level without attaching new spending conditions.
The government's borrowing authority is set to run out by the end of February, threatening to leave the U.S. without enough money to pay its bills.
Boehner had hoped to extend that authority by a year while also repealing a recent reduction in the cost-of-living benefits for military retirees. But he conceded that not enough Republicans would vote for any extension in the borrowing authority. Boehner blamed U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, for balking at negotiating new spending cuts.
"This is a lost opportunity for America. We're on a spending trajectory that's unsustainable. The president knows it. Every Democrat, and every Republican in this town knows it. And it has to be dealt with. And so it's a disappointing moment, I can tell you that."
Boehner said Republicans would provide "a minimum number of votes" in the House, along with a large number of Democrats, to approve an increase in the borrowing authority.
The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate is also likely to approve the increase in the debt ceiling, sending the measure to Obama for his signature.
Obama has often said he will not negotiate over increasing the country's borrowing authority. He says the country needs to borrow more to pay for spending already approved by Congress, while his congressional opponents have sought to impose spending cuts in exchange for increasing the borrowing authority.
During his five-year presidency, the looming threat of a default has often left Obama and lawmakers in tangled last-minute negotiations. Spending and debt disputes led to last October's 16-day partial government shutdown.
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