"We will not negotiate over whether or not the United States of
America should pay its bills," Senator Patty Murray said in a letter
to colleagues. "And once again, before they get any further down
this damaging path, we call on our Republican colleagues to not play
politics with our economic recovery."
The United States is expected to reach the debt ceiling in late
February and debt-limit fights have proven costly in the past,
helping cost the United States its top-tier credit rating from
Standard and Poor's in 2011.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said his fellow
Republicans will not pass a debt increase without some concessions
"The Speaker has said that we should not default on our debt, or
even get close to it, but a 'clean' debt limit increase simply won't
pass in the House. We hope and expect the White House and Senate
Democrats will work with us on a timely, fiscally responsible
solution," Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel, said in a statement.
Some of the demands Republicans are considering include expanding
offshore energy production, small changes in President Barack
Obama's healthcare law and approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Obama has vowed not to negotiate over raising the debt limit,
arguing that it is Congress' responsibility to ensure that its
spending obligations can be paid.
[to top of second column]
House Republicans likely will formulate their conditions for an
increase in U.S. borrowing authority next week at a retreat in
"We hope that coming out of this meeting, they will agree to build
on the bipartisan budget work done so far, join Democrats in passing
a clean debt ceiling bill, and focus on the real long and short-term
challenges facing the families and communities we serve," Murray
(Reporting by Eric Beech; editing by Stephen Powell)
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