House Could Consider Debt Limit

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the U.S. Congress on Tuesday moved toward passing a short-term funding bill to avert government shutdowns this week, House Speaker John Boehner left open the possibility of tackling major fiscal measures in October, including raising the nation’s borrowing limit.

When asked by a reporter whether he would advance a debt limit bill before resigning from Congress on Oct. 30, Boehner said: “We’ll have to see. There are a number of issues that we’re going to try to deal with over the coming month.”

Difficult fiscal issues – from increasing a debt limit that is forecast to be breached before year’s end to settling on spending priorities through September 2016 – confront a Congress that has been rocked by Republican disarray that resulted in Boehner’s retirement announcement last Friday.

Before those issues can be tackled, Congress must ensure the government has money to operate beyond Wednesday, when the current fiscal year ends and appropriations expire.

The Senate is aiming to pass on either Tuesday or Wednesday a stopgap spending bill that would run from Oct. 1 through Dec. 11.

“The bill before us would keep the government open. It would allow time for cooler heads to prevail,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

If the Senate passes the temporary spending plan, the House is expected to consider it quickly and send it to President Barack Obama for signing into law before a midnight Wednesday deadline.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Susan Cornwell and David Lawder; Editing by Bill Trott)