WASHINGTON Congress may not vote to raise the debt limit until well after the existing $14.3 trillion ceiling has been breached but before the Treasury has defaulted on its obligations, top Republicans in Congress said on Tuesday.
The comments by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Representative Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, indicate that Republicans are willing to postpone a vote as long as they can to get the best deal possible.
"Treasury if I'm not mistaken has put forth a notice which says there is a window within which we have to act in order to avoid the eventual default of this country on its debt," Cantor said at a news conference. "And I believe that that outside deadline is early July."
The Treasury Department has said the country will reach its $14.3 trillion debt limit by May 16, though the department will be able to take various measures to avoid a default until roughly July 8.
Republicans say they will not vote to increase the debt limit unless it is paired with measures to limit government spending, such as a constitutional amendment that would require a balanced budget.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Susan Cornwell, editing by Philip Barbara)