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Obama and Congress closing in on a debt ceiling, budget deal

October 26, 2015

Speaker of the House John BoehnerSpeaker of the House John Boehner
Former House Speaker John Boehner Photo by Bill Clark—Getty Images

Republican and Democratic negotiators in the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration are close to agreeing on proposals to raise Washington’s borrowing authority and fund government programs over the long term, according to House of Representatives and Senate sources.

While details remain to be worked out, the potential deal would provide funding for government agencies over a two-year period. Higher spending on military and domestic programs would be offset with savings elsewhere, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified.

A deal could be announced as early as this evening, according to the Senate source.

At a regular news briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “Not everything … has been agreed to. That means that nothing at this point has been agreed to. We continue to urge Republicans to continue to engage constructively with Democrats to identify common ground.”

U.S. borrowing authority would extend into 2017, the sources said without specifying how far into that year. A new president, who would be elected in November 2016, will take office in January 2017.

Any deal would have to be approved by the full House and Senate before being submitted to President Barack Obama.

Most House Republicans oppose any debt limit increase unless a long-term plan is enacted to bring down deficits and ultimately balance the federal budget. To pass the House, the fiscal deal likely would have to rely heavily on Democratic votes in that chamber.

House Speaker John Boehner is trying to get as many thorny issues out of the way before his retirement, which is set for Friday.

A budget and debt limit deal would go a long way toward easing the load of the next House speaker, who is expected to be Republican Representative Paul Ryan. The House is set to vote on Thursday on the next speaker.