WASHINGTON Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell proposed a "backup plan" on Tuesday that would allow a divided Congress to raise the debt ceiling with just the votes of Democrats.
The complicated legislative maneuver would avert an imminent default and let Republicans wash their hands of the politically toxic issue.
As outlined by McConnell, President Barack Obama would formally request an increase in the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, which Congress would reject through a "resolution of disapproval."
Obama would then veto that resolution and send it back to Congress. If Congress failed to muster the two-thirds vote needed to override a veto, the debt ceiling would effectively be lifted by the amount Obama had requested.
Obama and congressional leaders have failed so far to come up with a budget deal that could pass both the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Sandra Maler and Vicki Allen)