US & Canada

House Republicans reject US debt limit bill

House Speaker John Boehner
Image caption House Speaker John Boehner has said allowing more debt without spending cuts would be "irresponsible"

Republicans in the US House have rejected a bill to raise the US debt limit, in what analysts describe as a bid to force government spending cuts.

The chamber voted 318-97 against the bill, rejecting a call by US President Barack Obama to raise the debt limit without conditions.

Republicans have called for spending cuts in return for a debt increase.

The US treasury department has warned the US risks default if Congress does not authorise more borrowing by August.

Some Democrats who supported Mr Obama's position also voted against the bill after Democratic leaders criticised the bill as a Republican political ploy, noting Republican leaders brought the bill to a vote, then directed their caucus to vote against it.

Republicans leaders have not indicated they will ultimately refuse to grant a debt limit increase, but say the US must bring government spending in line with tax revenue.

The US national debt is $14.3 trillion (£8.7 trillion), and the annual budget deficit is roughly $1.5 trillion.

Leaders of both parties agree to the need to trim the budget, but Republicans have refused to allow tax increases, while Democrats have vowed to protect costly social programmes.