WASHINGTON (AP) - As Congress struggles to pass legislation increasing the government's borrowing cap, House GOP leaders are planning a vote Thursday on a proposed amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget.
Many lawmakers backed by the tea party are insisting on passage of an amendment before they consider voting for an increase in the debt limit. But the House effort appears unlikely to get the two-thirds margin it needs.
Meanwhile, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate says first-term House Republicans adamantly opposed to new tax revenues are terrified of likely primary challenges in their home districts if they go along with the proposal in order to solve the debt crisis.
But Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois says that's no justification for their stance, saying failure to act could have catastrophic consequences for the public and the economy. Durbin tells MSNBC such a scenario could cause ratings agencies to "downgrade the American economy."
Asked what happens if no legislation has been signed raising the debt limit by Aug. 3, Durbin said in an interview that the government would find itself with about $170 billion to pay bills and more than $370 billion in bills due for payment.
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