Obama to Ask for Debt Limit Increase in 'a Matter of Days'

on January 11 2012 11:39 AM
  • Obama speaks from the White House in Washington
    President Obama may request the third and final increase to the federal debt limit when Congress in back in session on Jan. 17. REUTERS
  • U.S. Budget / Debt Limit
    President Obama may request the third and final increase to the federal debt limit when Congress in back in session on Jan. 17. REUTERS
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President Barack Obama will ask Congress to raise the federal debt limit in a matter of days, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday.

Although the president was scheduled to ask for $1.2 trillion in additional borrowing authority on Dec. 30, the action was delayed because Congress has only been holding pro forma sessions, meaning no formal business has been conducted. Still, Carney told reporters the White House will request the third and final increase, as determined by the debt-ceiling deal reached by Congress last August.

I'm confident it will be executed in a matter of days, not weeks, Carney said.

The vote could come as early as Tuesday Jan. 17, after lawmakers officially begin the second session of the 112th Congress.

The U.S. reached the current $15.2 trillion debt limit on Wednesday Jan. 4, The Hill reported. Since then, the federal government has reportedly tapped into its Exchange Stabilization Fund in order to avoid exceeding the limit. The U.S. Treasury Department Web site states the fund consists of three types of assets: U.S. dollars, foreign currencies and Special Drawing Rights.

Since signing the debt-limit legislation Aug. 2, Obama has obtained two increases totaling $900 billion. Despite the budget agreement, the scheduled increase could launch another partisan dispute between Capitol Hill Democrats and Republicans.

The House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans, could attempt to block the proposed debt limit increase, although the Senate -- with its Democratic majority -- is unlikely to go along with such a move.

In September, the House voted to block Obama's request to raise the debt limit by $500 billion, the second scheduled increase. The Hill reported that House Republicans will likely line up in what will primarily be a symbolic opposition to the upcoming $1.2 trillion hike.

Under the budget agreement struck in August, which will keep the federal government afloat until the 2012 election, the president must formally request to increase the debt limit when the government comes within $100 billion of the current debt ceiling. Fifteen days after the request is submitted, the increase automatically takes effect unless Congress votes to reject the measure. However, in that scenario the president could veto the legislation.

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