The US House of Representatives halted debated Thursday evening on legislation to raise the federal debt limit, delaying a vote on a Republican proposal in the showdown with President Barack Obama, dpa reported.
The action suggested that House Speaker John Boehner was still trying to line up his conservative Republican majority behind the measure. It was not clear whether a vote would still be held late Thursday.
If passed by the House, the legislation is unlikely to get through the Democratic-controlled Senate, and Obama has already threatened to veto Boehner's bill.
The US Treasury has said that it will be unable to meet all its obligations and could risk an unprecedented defaulting on loans and downgrading of the government's credit, unless Congress passes a hike in the debt limit by Tuesday.
The federal debt limit currently stands at 14.3 trillion dollars.
Boehner's bill raises the debt limit by 900 billion dollars in two phases this year. Obama wants a higher cap allowing enough borrowing to keep the government going through the end of next year, arguing that another round of negotiations would be impractical ahead of the 2012 elections.
The Republicans, boosted by their conservative Tea Party faction, want deep cuts in federal spending before agreeing to raise the debt ceiling. Boehner's bill would slice more than 900 billion dollars from the budget, but he has struggled to get the fiscal hardliners in his party to support a compromise.