WASHINGTON Jan 18 The White House on Friday
said it welcomed plans by Republicans in the U.S. House of
Representatives to raise the government's debt ceiling, as long
as they do not condition the increase on spending cuts.
"We are encouraged that there are signs that congressional
Republicans may back off their insistence on holding our economy
hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education and
programs middle class families depend on," White House spokesman
Jay Carney said in a statement. "Congress must pay its bills and
pass a clean debt limit increase without further delay."
The House will consider a bill next week to extend the debt
limit by three months in order to force the Senate to pass a
budget, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on
The White House has been skeptical about any short-term
increase in the nation's borrowing limit if it were used as a
bargaining wedge to force the administration into accepting
spending cuts later on. The administration has insisted that
while it is willing to discuss reducing government outlays, it
will refuse to negotiate over raising the debt ceiling.
Carney renewed the administration's call on Congress to
raise the debt independently of other fiscal dealings.
"The President has made clear that Congress has only two
options: pay the bills they have racked up, or fail to do so and
put our nation into default," he said. "The President remains
committed to further reducing the deficit in a balanced way."
Less than three weeks after the White House and Congress
averted the severe combination of tax increases and spending
cuts that came to be known as the "fiscal cliff," fresh budget
deadlines loom. As with the fiscal cliff, failure to act has the
potential to cause a number of serious economic dislocations: a
U.S. debt default, a government shutdown, further deep spending
cuts to defense and non-defense programs alike.
The most immediate and most serious of the three budget
bottlenecks is the need to raise the $16.4 trillion U.S. debt
limit so the Treasury can continue to borrow to fund government
obligations. The Treasury has said it will run out of options to
allow it to borrow in mid-to-late February, raising the specter
of a financial market-roiling debt default.