House Republicans back off

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House Republicans back off NewsLineToday    Gallery Enlarge Image

Date  19 Jan.2013
Republicans in the House of Representatives backed away on Friday from a fiscal clash with President Barack Obama next month that could have risked a government default and chaos in financial markets, shifting to a new, less aggressive stance.

Top Republican leaders, meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, said they were prepared to allow the U.S. government to borrow enough money to keep it fully operating for the next three months without demanding immediate spending cuts from Obama.

Instead, the Republicans, who control the House, will require as part of the legislation raising the debt ceiling that the Democratic-led Senate pass a budget plan by April 15.

If the Senate fails to act, they said, members of Congress would not get paid. How that might work in practice, in light of existing budget law and constitutional restrictions on changing congressional salaries in the middle of a term, was unclear. House Republicans hope to pass the legislation next week.

Republican leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, made the announcement after an annual retreat at a resort in Williamsburg, where members listened to pollsters describe the party's decline in standing among American voters.

It followed a humiliating defeat in the "fiscal cliff" battle that ended on New Year's Day with Obama getting tax increases he sought on the wealthy without committing to significant budget cuts Republicans were seeking in return.

World equity and oil prices rebounded after the statement by the Republican leaders.

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