US House Republicans to discuss Senate deal as Obama urges swift approval

WASHINGTON (Reuters/AFP) - Republican leaders in the United States House of Representatives have set a meeting for 3pm local time on Wednesday to brief their members about the Senate's newly minted bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit and end the government shutdown.

The meeting is likely to be raucous since it does not contain demands by House Republicans to rollback President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul. Regardless, the House is expected to approve the measure later in the day with mostly Democratic votes, aides said.

Mr Obama urged Congress on Wednesday to move swiftly to approve a deal to reopen the US government and remove the threat of a potentially devastating default.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Mr Obama was grateful to the leaders of the Senate for working together and wanted lawmakers now to ensure "the government reopens and the threat of default is removed".

"We obviously hope that each house will be able to act swiftly because we're already on Day 16, I think... of a wholly unnecessary shutdown of government with real consequences for real people," Mr Carney added.

"And we are obviously very close to the point beyond which the United States Treasury no longer has the authority to borrow new money to meet our obligations."

While a wave of relief swept the White House at the prospect of an end to a 16-day government shutdown and the avoidance of a debt default, there was still a degree of uncertainty as to what would happen to the Senate legislation in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where a faction of conservatives has been in no mood to compromise.

"We are not putting odds on anything," Mr Carney said when asked about prospects for House passage. He was also reluctant to be seen declaring victory on behalf of Mr Obama.

"There are no winners here," he said. "There is already a price that has been paid."

Looking ahead to the budget negotiations that the Senate deal requires, more partisan battles appear to be in the offing. Mr Carney said Mr Obama would insist that "everything has to be on the table" as part of these negotiations, meaning the President would want new revenue generated from a budget deal, which Republicans have opposed.

Once the deal is approved, Mr Obama wants to focus on gaining passage of a stalled overhaul of US immigration laws. The Senate in June approved an immigration agreement but it has not advanced in the House.

The White House reaction came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the top Republican in the Senate Mitch McConnell announced an agreement that would reopen the government with a temporary budget until January 15 and extend US borrowing authority until February 7.

The measure would have to be approved by the Senate and the Republican-controlled House, where Tea Party Republicans until now have refused a compromise without major concessions by Mr Obama.

The timing of the House and Senate votes is unclear.

The deal would extend US borrowing authority until Feb 7, although the Treasury Department would have tools to temporarily extend its borrowing capacity beyond that date if Congress failed to act early next year.

The agreement also would fund government agencies until Jan 15, ending a partial government shutdown that began with the new fiscal year on Oct 1.

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