Debt crisis averted – but spring fight still ahead
WASHINGTON – Retreating with a purpose, Republicans sped legislation through the House on Wednesday to avert the imminent threat of a government default but pointing the way to a big springtime budget struggle with President Barack Obama. The fight to come will focus on steps to wring enormous savings from Medicare, farm subsidies and other benefit programs.
The current legislation, which cleared the House on a bipartisan vote of 288-144, would permit Treasury borrowing to exceed the limit of $16.4 trillion through May 18. It passed as Speaker John Boehner pledged that Republicans will quickly draft a budget that would wipe out deficits in a decade and challenged Democrats to do the same.
The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to approve the debt bill quickly. The White House welcomed the legislation rather than face the threat of a first-ever default at the dawn of the president's second term in the White House, and spokesman Jay Carney pointedly noted a "fundamental change" in strategy by the GOP.
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