White House slams Senate Republicans

The White House criticized Republicans in the Senate for blocking a bill that would have increased the federal debt ceiling by $1.1 trillion until after the 2014 elections.

The debt hike, put forward by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), failed to win the 60 votes that were necessary to advance the measure to a floor debate in the upper chamber.

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The bill was stymied on a party line vote, with Reid switching his vote to no at the end to preserve the ability to attempt to pass the measure again later.

The White House said the Senate Democrats’ measure would have solved the stalemate in Congress that has raised concerns about the possibility of a default on the federal debt.

“Congress must do its job and raise the debt limit to pay the bills we have incurred and avoid default,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

“It is unfortunate that the common sense, clean debt limit increase proposed by Senate Democrats was refused a yes or no vote today,” Carney continued.

“This bill would have taken the threat of default off the table, and given our nation's businesses and the economy the certainty we need. With five days until the government runs out of borrowing authority, Congress needs to move forward with a solution that reopens the government and allows us to pay our bills so we can move on to the business of achieving a broader budget deal that creates jobs, grows the economy and strengthens the middle class.”

Both chambers of Congress are in rare Saturday sessions as lawmakers grope for a potential solution to avert a first-ever default on the federal debt.

The U.S. government will hit the debt ceiling and begin defaulting on its bills Thursday, according to The Treasury Department.

Conservatives have attempted to extract concessions from the Obama administration in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, often citing a vote against hiking the limit from President Obama when he was a member of the Senate.

Obama has said repeatedly that he is not willing to negotiate with GOP leaders in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, though administration officials have been talking to leaders in both chambers in recent days as the Oct. 17 deadline nears.