That means Obama and the Congress are already on a new collision path. Republicans say they intend to use the debt ceiling as leverage to extract more spending cuts from the president. Obama has been adamant that unlike 2011, when the country came close to defaulting on its debts, he will not yield to those Republican demands.

Lawmakers have until the new Congress convenes to pass any compromise, and even the calendar mattered. Democrats said they had been told House Republicans might reject a deal until after Jan. 1, to avoid a vote to raise taxes before they had technically gone up, and then vote to cut taxes after they had risen.

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Associated Press writers David Espo, Julie Pace, Jim Kuhnhenn and Michele Salcedo contributed to this report.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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