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Washington (AFP) – With an end to the U.S. debt ceiling crisis in sight, the White House said the deadline to renew U.S. borrowing authority fell late on Thursday, leaving time for Congress to work its will.

Various cable television stations and most news coverage has focused on a midnight deadline for the debt ceiling to be lifted in the run up to what could have been a historic U.S. default.

But White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the U.S. government had borrowing authority right up until “the end of the day” on Thursday.

“Beyond that, if there’s not a resolution to this and the debt ceiling isn’t lifted, then we have a cash-on-hand situation when it comes to meeting our obligations,” Carney said.

Both chambers of Congress were expected to vote later on Wednesday on a deal brokered by Senate leaders to re-open the U.S. government and extend America’s borrowing authority until February 7 next year.

But given the often complicated and sluggish congressional procedures the timing could yet slip.

Carney’s remarks, which were more specific than comments from the Obama administration in recent days, may be seen as a signal to markets that bureaucratic hitches will not disturb an apparent easing of the crisis.

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