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House Democrats want to repeal debt ceiling

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FILE - In this July 14, 2011 file photo, the U.S. flag flies next to the Capitol in Washington, as Congress and the Obama Administration continue work to raise the debt ceiling. Back in the summer of 2011, as a debt crisis loomed much like one does again today, Obama issued a clear threat to Republicans: Without an agreement to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, older Americans might not get their Social Security checks. He wasn’t the first to issue such a warning in the face of a debt fight between an administration and Congress. The federal government could run out of cash to pay all its bills in full as early as Feb. 15, according to one authoritative estimate, and congressional Republicans want significant spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Obama, forced to negotiate an increase in 2011, has vowed not to negotiate again. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats are pushing legislation to repeal the federal debt ceiling, saying the borrowing limit has no practical purpose and has come to be used for political maneuvering that can have devastating economic repercussions.

New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler said the debt ceiling is arbitrary, doesn't affect the deficit and has become a Republican means to "blackmail" the country to advance the GOP's political agenda.

President Barack Obama earlier this week said he would not negotiate with Republicans over the debt ceiling, saying talks on spending cuts should be separate from raising the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling and averting a possible first-ever national default.

The debt ceiling has been in place since 1939. The Treasury says it will run out of borrowing power in mid-February to early March.

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