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No Deal In U.S. Debt Talks

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (left) and Rep Eric Cantor attend a news conference with Republican House members in Washington on October 10.

U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (left) and Rep Eric Cantor attend a news conference with Republican House members in Washington on October 10.

The latest talks between President Barack Obama and opposition Republican leaders on raising the U.S. debt limit have ended without a breakthrough.

A White House statement called the 90-minute meeting on October 10 "good," but said the sides had found no specific way forward to break the impasse.

Eric Cantor, a leader of the majority Republicans in the House of Representatives, called the meeting "very useful," and said discussions with Obama's Democrats were expected to continue.

U.S. lawmakers are facing an October 17 deadline to at least temporarily raise the government’s borrowing limit, which is currently $16.7 trillion, or risk a U.S. debt default, which could send shock waves through the global financial system.

The Democrats are seeking a deal that would also end the partial government shutdown, now in its 11th day.

Amid hopes that a deal could soon be reached, U.S. financial market indexes on October 10 rose sharply.

Earlier on October 10, the White House said Obama "would likely" sign a bill that would temporarily increase the government borrowing limit -- but only if it came to his desk without conditions from Republicans.

The Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, had suggested a deal that would increase the nation’s borrowing limit for just six weeks.

In exchange, Boehner is calling for a Democratic agreement to negotiate spending cuts on a bill to reopen the government.

However, Harry Reid, leader of the majority Democrats in the Senate, quickly ruled out such talks. Reid insisted that the government should be reopened and a deal on a new debt ceiling should be reached before any negotiations on spending cuts.

"Nonessential" government operations shut down on October 1, after Republicans made passage of any funding bill conditional on changes to the health-care insurance law. Democrats oppose any changes to the law, which was passed three years ago and is currently being implemented.

In their latest statements, Republicans have seemed to downplay their earlier demands for major changes to the health-care law.

Global finance chiefs, meanwhile, have continued to urge the United States to quickly end the political deadlock over the budget and debt ceiling, saying it was raising the threat of serious damage to the world economy.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim warned of a potential catastrophe if the United States, the world’s biggest economy, is forced to default on its debt for the first time in history because politicians could not reach a deal.
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