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Obama would likely sign 3-month debt ceiling extension

3:40 PM, Jan 22, 2013   |    comments
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David Jackson, USA TODAY

President Obama would likely sign off on a three-month extension of the debt ceiling but would prefer to see a longer-term deal, his spokesman said Tuesday.

Obama "would not stand in the way" if a House Republican proposal for a three-month extension is approved by Congress and reaches his desk, spokesman Jay Carney said.

The Treasury Department reports that the government is close to breaching the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, which enables the government to borrow money to pay its bills. Failure to raise the debt ceiling could lead to a government default.

Treasury officials have not set a specific deadline but said the nation will lose borrowing authority in mid-February or early March.

Some Republicans have proposed leveraging the debt ceiling to get more spending cuts from the Obama administration; Obama has said he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling, saying the nation is obligated to pay its bills.

A 2011 tangle nearly led to a government default and contributed to a downgrade in the nation's credit rating.

House leaders proposed a three-month extension at their retreat last week and plan to vote on it Wednesday.

Carney said Obama has always supported a long-term debt extension "without drama or delay." But he added that the three-month proposal could be constructive because it "de-escalates the sense of conflict."

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