2 Aug 2011

House approves deal to raise US debt limit

3:08 pm on 2 August 2011

The House of Representatives has approved a deal to raise the US federal borrowing limit.

The bill passed by 269 votes to 161 in Washington on Monday night.

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said that although the deal had some imperfections, he believed it would allow the country to move forward with its economic recovery.

Mr Boehner said it is now time for America to deal with its spending problem.

Shortly before voting began, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she would back the bill, after earlier saying she was undecided.

The Senate will vote on the plan at midday in Washington local time on Tuesday.

Majority leader Senator Harry Reid said the measure will need 60 votes to pass. If the bill passes, it will be sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

The deal would raise the ceiling for federal debt by up to $US2.1 trillion and would cut the federal budget deficit by a similar amount. The current limit is $US14.3 trillion, which needs to be extended by Tuesday.

Government spending cuts of $US900 billion will be made, split between defence and non-defence spending.

A bipartisan commission would also be set up to recommend $US1.5 trillion in further spending cuts, spread over 10 years. It would report by 23 November this year.

An agreement was reached between Republicans and Democrats on Sunday night. The bill needs to pass both houses of Congress to become law, but elements of both parties were expected to oppose it.

Politico website correspondent Ken Vogel told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme there is a sense from both sides that the deal is not sufficiently true to ideals laid out in the course of long and bitter debate.