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Obama asks for debt limit hike

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President Obama sent a letter to the House of Representatives and the Senate Thursday formally requesting to raise the debt ceiling. In August, Washington was thrown into crisis before eventually raising the ceiling by $400 billion hours before a deadline issued by the Treasury Department and by another $500 billion since. As part of the legislation, Obama was given the authority to request a third increase when the debt reached within $100 billion of the ceiling. According to the Treasury, this happened late last year, but Obama delayed an official request to give Congress time to organize votes. Congress is currently in recess until Jan. 23, but the request is designed to pass automatically after 15 days. There will be time for a joint resolution by Congress to reject it, but Obama can veto that resolution. The House will be in session early next week. A spokesperson for Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in a statement that the House will hold a vote on the resolution Wednesday. The increase will raise the ceiling by more than $1.2 trillion to nearly $16.4 trillion. During the last crisis, Republicans balked at any tax increases Democrats wanted to attach to a series of spending cuts. The solution was to form a super committee in charge of finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. The stalemate over raising revenue continued, and the super committee failed to offer a proposal. But even though the ceiling was eventually raised, the infighting and still surging debt levels was enough for Standard & Poor's to downgrade the U.S. AAA ratings. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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