Senate Dems To Try Passing Debt Ceiling Increase
Democrats controlling the Senate are planning to try to pass a stand-alone measure to increase the government's borrowing cap, challenging Republicans to a filibuster showdown that could unnerve financial markets as the deadline to a first-ever default on U.S. obligations draws closer.
A spokesman says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could unveil the measure as early as today, setting the table for a test vote later in the week.
The measure is expected to provide enough borrowing room to last beyond next year's election, which means it will likely permit $1 trillion or more in new borrowing above the current $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.
The development came as a partial shutdown of the government enters its second week with no sign of ending.
Shutdown takes its toll on White House operations
The partial government shutdown is taking its toll on the White House, where about 3 out of 4 staffers are being kept off-duty.
Aides on furlough are barred even from checking the BlackBerrys they usually clutch like worry beads.
Of the 1,701 advisers, assistants, number-crunchers, butlers, chefs and landscapers at the White House normally, fewer than 450 are working. That's because the rest fall under the unfortunate category of "non-essential."
President Barack Obama's aides have strived to maintain a sense of normalcy. But the logistical gymnastics of running the federal government's nerve center with a skeletal staff have created a sense of mild disarray.
Even the White House switchboard has been set to roll over to a prerecorded message. The message says to call back when the government reopens.
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