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Article updated: 1/21/2013 12:15 PM

House to vote Wednesday on raise in debt limit

By

WASHINGTON -- The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on an increase in the nation's debt limit, a move designed to prevent a first-ever government default.

The vote marks a change in strategy for House Republicans who run the chamber and who remain adamant about reducing government spending but decided not to use the debt limit to trigger a confrontation with President Barack Obama.

Instead, they have said the debt increase measure will require the House and Senate to approve budgets that call for spending cuts, with pay withheld for lawmakers in either house that failed to do so.

The current debt limit is $16.4 trillion. The legislation does not set a specific limit; rather it would automatically increase the limit by the amount required to fund U.S. government obligations through May 18. But that date is not likely a hard deadline because the Treasury would retain a limited ability to exercise so-called extraordinary measures and juggle certain accounts to buy limited additional time before a default on U.S. obligations.

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