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Debt Ceiling Taking Center Stage as Government Shutdown Continues

CBS News (10/08/13) Lindsey Boerma

The federal government shutdown and looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling have merged into one major problem on Capitol Hill, though neither issue is likely to be resolved in the near term as the government shutdown continues its second week. Republicans and Democrats seem to have dug further into their respective positions, with Republicans calling on Democrats to negotiate a short-term spending bill and a debt-ceiling increase. The White House reiterated that it is ready to negotiate over any topic—once the GOP passes legislation to re-open the government and raise the U.S. borrowing limit without any conditions.

Senate Democrats have begun work on a bill that would raise just the debt ceiling and not change any other policy, but it is unclear how many Republicans would vote for such a bill, and bipartisan support is needed. The votes might not begin until the latter part of this week because of procedural rules that govern the Senate.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is set to run out of its ability to borrow money on Oct. 17, with the current debt limit set at $16.7 trillion. If the limit is not raised, the federal government will have to withhold payments like Social Security, and the worldwide flow of credit would be jeopardized.