News Column

Obama to Back 'Suspension' of Debt Ceiling

January 23, 2013
Debt Ceiling Obama

President Barack Obama would sign a House Republican plan to ignore the U.S. debt ceiling for four months, the White House said ahead of a House vote Wednesday.

The GOP bill would declare the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling "suspended" and therefore "shall not apply, until May 19."

The move, which The Wall Street Journal called "a legislative sleight of hand," would let the U.S. Treasury Department keep borrowing money to pay its bills but would not require lawmakers to vote on actually raising the debt ceiling.

Once the suspension period ends, the borrowing limit would be adjusted upward to account for the country's increased debt level.

House Republican leaders said they were confident the bill would pass with strong GOP support.

Several conservative lawmakers said they would support the plan after Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, promised the House would propose a 2014 budget designed to balance the budget within 10 years.

Last year's House budget plan sought to balance it over nearly 30 years, the Congressional Budget Office said.

However, some conservatives said they still had doubts about the debt-ceiling and budget-balancing deal.

"I can't get to yes on this," Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., told The Washington Post. "I'm going to vote on principle. And I understand the principle of the next three months, but I think that every vote you take should be on principle."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was "very glad" House Republicans intended "to send us a clean debt-ceiling bill."

"I'm glad we're not facing crisis here in the matter of a few days," he said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday, "The bill still has to overcome some concerns expressed by members of the House and the Senate before it can pass both chambers and reach the president's desk.

"If it does [pass Congress] and it reaches the president's desk, he would not stand in the way of the bill becoming law," Carney said.

"Clearly, we support extension of the debt ceiling without drama or delay," Carney said. "That has been his position forever -- as president and since we've had these rather novel debates about whether or not we should engage in games of chicken over the full faith and credit of the United States."

The White House later said Obama looked forward "to continuing to work with both the House and the Senate to increase certainty and stability for the economy."

Source: Copyright United Press International 2013

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