WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Republicans who
control the U.S. House of Representatives have penciled in a possible
vote next week on legislation to raise the debt limit, a sign that they
are moving closer to deciding whether to try to attach conditions to any
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Friday left a spot open in
his weekly House floor schedule for "possible consideration of the
legislation related to the debt limit" on Wednesday.
A temporary extension of the $17 trillion U.S. debt ceiling expires
at midnight on Friday, forcing the U.S. Treasury Department to
resort to extraordinary cash management measures to ensure that it
can continue to borrow to pay federal obligations.
But the Treasury has said it expects to exhaust these measures by
the end of the month, putting it at risk of missing some payments if
the ceiling is not lifted by then.
Cantor's schedule did not indicate a specific bill, or whether any
legislation would contain conditions or be the "clean" increase
sought by President Barack Obama.
Republicans say they oppose a "clean" increase without some measures
to reduce deficits or boost economic growth. But the party has
struggled to agree on a plan that can win Republican support and
still be accepted by Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate, who
are insisting on an increase without any conditions.
But unlike past episodes, lawmakers this time around are largely
steering clear of any default threats that could provoke financial
"I'm confident that the United States is not going to default on its
debt, and we will resolve the need to increase the borrowing
authority of this country prior to any deadline that the Treasury
issues," Cantor said on Thursday on the House floor.
influential corporate chief executives group again weighed in on the
matter, urging congressional leaders in a letter to swiftly pass a
debt limit increase to avoid uncertainty and a potential increase in
"Any default by the federal government on its debts would cause
devastating, long-lasting effects for all Americans," wrote two top
officers of the Business Roundtable, AT&T Chairman Randall
Stephenson and United Technologies Chairman Louis Chenevert.
"Further, prolonged inaction that takes the government up to the
precipice would foster uncertainty, dampen consumer and business
confidence, risk higher borrowing costs, and could have immediate
consequences for hiring and investment," the executives wrote in the
letter released on Friday.
The House currently has only seven more legislative days scheduled
through the end of February in which to pass an increase. The House
will be out of session Feb 13-24 to accommodate a retreat for
Democratic members late next week and a President's Day holiday
recess the following week.
(Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Chizu Nomiyama)