U.S. Debt Limit Increase Could Hit House Floor Soon
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. House of Representatives could attempt to pass legislation this month raising federal borrowing authority before Speaker John Boehner retires, an aide to Boehner said on Wednesday.
“The Speaker has made it clear that he wants to solve some outstanding issues before he leaves. No decisions have been made, but a resolution on the debt ceiling is certainly possible,” said the aide, who asked not to be identified.
In September, Boehner announced that he plans to retire from Congress on Oct. 30. But he could stay on longer as House Republicans are deeply divided over who to nominate as his replacement.
The Treasury Department has informed Congress that the government will need to increase its statutory borrowing limit by Nov. 5 or risk defaulting on some debt.
The Bipartisan Policy Center, however, has estimated that the “X-date,” when Treasury will not have enough incoming receipts to meet all of its financial obligations, could be sometime between Nov. 10 and Nov. 19.
Raising the debt limit is a controversial issue for conservative Republicans in Congress, who want to extract deep reductions in domestic spending over the long-term before allowing an increase in government borrowing.
These same House conservatives have tussled with Boehner throughout his nearly five years as Speaker and are playing a central role in the selection of a replacement for Boehner.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the leading candidate for Speaker, dropped out last week saying he concluded he was not the person who could unite the Republican rank-and-file.
Since then, no new candidate has emerged. At the same time, Boehner wants to put some contentious issues to rest, like the debt limit, before leaving the top post in the House so that the next Speaker is not immediately caught up in bitter intra-party battles.
Details were not available yet on how much of a debt limit increase could be presented in the House.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not comment on his intentions for moving a debt limit bill if the House were to act.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lisa Lambert)
Photo: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) re-enters after excusing himself from a news conference following a closed Republican House caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 29, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst