Debt limit extension bill passes House

Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:07pm EST
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By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a Republican plan to allow the federal government to keep borrowing money through mid-May, clearing it for fast enactment after the top Senate Democrat and White House endorsed it.

The vote in the Republican-controlled House was 285-144, with no votes coming from 33 Republicans and 111 Democrats.

The measure avoids for the time being a repeat of the 2011 debt ceiling standoff that rattled markets and resulted in a downgrade of the government's triple-A credit rating. The Treasury is expected to exhaust remaining capacity under the $16.4 trillion debt limit between mid-February and early March.

The House vote marked a sharp departure from Republican vows to use the debt ceiling issue as a way to extract spending cuts from President Barack Obama.

But House Speaker John Boehner warned immediately after Wednesday's vote that Republicans would take the next opportunity - automatic budget cuts set for March - to demand "reforms" from Obama.

The automatic cuts, which were temporarily set aside earlier this month in a fiscal deal between the White House and Congress, are "going to go into effect" unless Obama makes concessions, Boehner said.

The bill aims to draw Senate Democrats into the debate by requiring both chambers to pass a formal budget resolution by April 15. If either the House or Senate fails to meet this deadline, lawmakers' pay is suspended until they pass a budget.

Republicans have named the bill the "No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013."   Continued...

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (C) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) (L) arrive at a news conference on the "fiscal cliff" on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 21, 2012. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas