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Biden: 'We don't know at this point' if feds will step in to help Detroit

Vice President Biden said Friday that “we don't know at this point” whether the federal government will step in to aid the city of Detroit.

Biden said White House officials held a meeting on Detroit’s decision to file for bankruptcy on Thursday but gave few clues to how, or if, the administration might intervene.

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Republicans have seized on news of the largest municipal bankruptcy in history to attack the president, who often said during the 2012 presidential campaign that he “refused to let Detroit go bankrupt.”

The president was referring to the auto industry based in the Motor City, but the GOP says the city's financial struggles underscore the economic difficulties the nation has faced during Obama's tenure.

In a statement Thursday, the White House said the president and his senior advisers “continue to closely monitor the situation in Detroit.”

“While leaders on the ground in Michigan and the city’s creditors understand that they must find a solution to Detroit’s serious financial challenge, we remain committed to continuing our strong partnership with Detroit as it works to recover and revitalize and maintain its status as one of America's great cities,” White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said in a statement.

By filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, Detroit would shield itself from some $18.5 billion in debt and other liabilities.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said on July 11 that the president was “aware” of Detroit's dire financial situation but said he was not aware of any “plans or proposals that the president has” to deal with the situation.

“Administration officials have been in contact with leaders in Detroit,” Carney said.

Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr met with White House officials in April, but a spokesman for Orr said the city had neither requested nor been offered a federal bailout.

“There was never a formal ask,” Bill Nowling, a spokesman for Orr, told The Detroit News, “but I think the way it was portrayed to me that it was pretty clear there was going to be no bailout ... akin to what we saw in scope and intent for the autos or for Wall Street."