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Senate Democrats call for July deadline on debt-limit vote

May 09, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau
(Mark Wilson / Getty Images )

A top Democrat in the Senate said Monday that Congress should pass a debt-ceiling increase no later than mid-July -- weeks before a Treasury Department deadline -- to avoid the expected turmoil in the financial markets if partisan infighting prolongs the debate.

"We ought to have plenty of breathing room -- this should not be an hour, a day or even a week [before the deadline]," Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, said during a call with reporters.

He said Congress should act by July 15 rather than push the debate until Aug. 2, which is the deadline set by the Treasury Department for exhausting the nation's borrowing capacity.

"Sooner is better," Schumer said.

Congressional leaders will meet again this week with Vice President Joe Biden, who is brokering negotiations to raise the nation's legal debt capacity beyond its current $14.3-trillion limit. The vote is a routine but unpopular one, and Republicans are pressing to extract spending cuts in exchange for passage.

Schumer cautioned against holding the vote hostage to ongoing negotiations, as was done during last month's talks to achieve spending cuts to avoid a government shutdown.

lmascaro@tribune.com

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