House to vote next week on debt limit increase

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WASHINGTON -- The Republican-controlled House will vote next week to permit the government to borrow more money to meet its obligations, a move aimed at heading off a market-rattling confrontation with President Barack Obama over the so-called debt limit.

Full details aren't settled yet, but the measure would give the government about three more months of borrowing authority beyond a deadline expected to hit as early as mid-February, said Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 House Republican.

The legislation wouldn't require immediate spending cuts as earlier promised by GOP leaders like Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. Instead, it's aimed at forcing the Democratic-controlled Senate to join the House in debating the federal budget. It would try to do so by cutting off pay for members of Congress if a budget doesn't pass the House and Senate.

"We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government's spending problem," Boehner told GOP lawmakers at a retreat in Williamsburg, Va. "The principle is simple: 'no budget, no pay.' "

But the idea ran into opposition from House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and other Democrats who called it a gimmick because it would set up another potential confrontation in just a few months. Votes from Democrats may be needed to help pass the measure if some GOP conservatives withhold support.

"This proposal does not relieve the uncertainty faced by small businesses, the markets and the middle class," said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill. "This is a gimmick unworthy of the challenges we face and the national debate we should be having."

The White House welcomed the developments.

"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 press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it was "reassuring to see Republicans beginning to back off their threat to hold our economy hostage." But his statement hinted Senate Democrats would not go along with the "no budget, no pay" idea.

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