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Watertown Daily Times - Owens Opposes Raising Limit on National Debt

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Location: Washington, DC

Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said Thursday he will vote against raising the limit on the national debt, an issue that could confront the new Republican House majority early next year.

Mr. Owens, who cast a similar vote earlier this year, said he isn't necessarily in favor of bringing the question forward, but he would just as soon consider it this year as wait until Republicans hold the majority.

Raising the debt ceiling is one major debate Democrats are considering leaving to the next Congress, figuring the presumptive incoming speaker of the House, Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, can battle within his own party over the issue. Raising the limit offends the government spending critics elected Tuesday but risks putting the government in default if not approved.

"I'm not saying it's a bill I'd bring up," Mr. Owens said.

Presumably, he would side with many Republicans who oppose raising the debt ceiling. Not a single House Republican favored doing so on the most recent vote this year, but they cast those votes knowing the measure would pass anyway.

The debt ceiling is now $14.3 trillion.

The issue has the potential to put Republicans in a bind, depending on how they handle it. The government could lose its ability to borrow, forcing a shutdown similar to the one that the Republicans forced in 1995 and which cost Republicans seats in Congress and helped re-elect President Bill Clinton, who stood firm against cuts in Medicare and other programs.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate have suggested if they do vote on the issue, they will try to attach budget cuts, or consider cuts first.

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