US House passes bill to extend country's debt limit until May
The US House has passed a bill to extend the country's debt limit until May 18, deferring a budget debate with the White House. The proposal, passed in a 285-144 vote, also requires lawmakers to pass a budget by mid-April or forgo pay, reports BBC News.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the upper chamber would quickly pass the debt-limit bill, moving it to the president for final approval.
White House spokesman Jay Carney called the vote a "welcome development".
The Obama administration said the president would not block a short-term extension if it passed Congress.
The US Treasury is approaching its 16.4tn dollars debt limit, and Congress must allow it to borrow more money.
Republicans added a clause to the bill to keep lawmakers from collecting their salaries if they do not pass a budget by April 15.
The US has not passed a full budget plan in four years, instead maintaining the government's spending through a series of stop-gap bills, the latest of which is set to expire on 27 March.
Republicans had previously threatened not to pass an increase in the debt limit unless it was paired with spending cuts. But President Obama refused to negotiate, demanding that lawmakers pass an unconditional debt-limit increase.
The vote comes less than three weeks after Congress and the White House struck a last-minute deal to prevent the so-called fiscal cliff of sharp spending cuts and tax increases.
The last debt-ceiling battle between Congress and President Barack Obama ended in July 2011, after bringing the nation close to default, resulting in a credit-rating downgrade and financial market turmoil.