Debt Ceiling: Senate Democrats Push Toward Vote
Senate Democrats are pushing for a vote to raise the federal debt ceiling, challenging Republicans to yet another showdown as the US closes in on a possible default.
Democrats introduced a bill on Tuesday to raise the government's borrowing authority by enough to last through 2014.
A Democrat aide said they were hopeful they could get the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles in the 100-member Senate and pass the debt ceiling bill with no strings attached, even though the measure includes no deficit reduction.
The bill is expected to provide enough borrowing room to last beyond next year's mid-term election, meaning it likely will permit $1trn (£622bn) or more in new borrowing.
The amount will be added to the current $16.7trn (£10.39trn) debt ceiling that the US Treasury says will be hit on October 17.
The Democrats' measure, however, is not expected to include new spending cuts sought by Republicans, most likely rendering it dead on arrival in the House.
The vote also could face strong opposition in the Senate if it does not contain budget cuts to make a dent in deficits.
The development comes as a partial shutdown of the government enters its second week with no end in sight.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and the top Republican in Congress continued to trade barbs over the twin crises.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr Obama said he is "happy to talk with Republicans about anything ... but that should not require having a shutdown or economic chaos held over the heads of the American people".
He said: "Republicans do not get to demand a ransom for doing their jobs."
Earlier, House Speaker John Boehner said he was simply asking the president for "a conversation".
"I'm not drawing lines in the sand. It is time for us to just sit down and resolve our differences," he said. "There's no boundaries here. There's nothing on the table, there's nothing off the table."
But Mr Obama reiterated he would not negotiate with Republicans until they voted to end the shutdown with a "clean" spending bill.
House Republicans had sought to attach a delay to aspects of Mr Obama's signature healthcare law in exchange for keeping the federal government funded beyond September 30.
Meanwhile, GOP aides said the Republican-controlled House will attempt to set up a new bipartisan panel to negotiate reopening the government and avoid a default.
The White House has promised to veto the proposal.
The prolonged political wrangling in Washington has frustrated citizens and business leaders alike.
A survey by The Washington Post and ABC News found that 70% of Americans disapprove of the way Republicans are handling budget negotiations, up from 63% last week.
Disapproval of Mr Obama's role was unchanged at 51%.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Starbucks has urged fellow business leaders to ratchet up the pressure on Washington to end the stalemate.
Howard Schultz wrote in a letter posted on the company's website that he was "utterly disappointed by the level of irresponsibility and dysfunction we are witness to with our elected political leadership."
"This weekend I heard from several business leaders who shared their concern about our relative silence and impact in urging the political leadership to act on behalf of the citizenry," he said.
"It is our responsibility to address the crisis of confidence that is needlessly being set in motion."
"I don't pretend that both parties are equally to blame for this crisis. But I do think they are equally responsible for leading us to a solution," Mr Schultz said.