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Political gridlock continues as nation nears debt ceiling

Time is running out for a debt deal. Treasury warns catastrophic consequences could reverberate around the world.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

Time is running out for a debt deal. Treasury warns catastrophic consequences could reverberate around the world.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) walks to a meeting with House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol October 8, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Now in the second week of a government shutdown, the country teeters on the brink of a much more dangerous crisis — breaching the debt ceiling.

The question: when?

The Treasury says the U.S. will run out of money to pay its debts on Oct. 17. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that Congress is “playing with fire” if they fail to raise the debt limit by then.

Other reports are beginning to trickle out that Treasury could keep the bills paid until later in the month. Lew will testify at a Thursday hearing on the nation’s borrowing limit, where he will try to convince lawmakers to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.

But whether the parties can come to a solution in the nick of time — whether that’s in nine days or two weeks — is anyone’s guess.

Senate Democrats plan to introduce a “clean”  bill increasing the debt limit this week, aides told NBC News.

The measure would aim to extend the country’s borrowing authority until after the midterm elections. The bill could be filed as early as today.

On Monday, President Obama remained steadfast in his refusal to negotiate over the debt ceiling.

“I cannot do that under the threat that if Republicans don’t get 100 percent of their way, they’re going to either shutdown the government, or they are going to default on America’s debt,” he said. ”We can’t threaten an economic catastrophe in the midst of budget negotiations.”

But Boehner made clear in an interview on Sunday that the House would not raise the debt ceiling without some concessions from the White House.

“We are not going to pass a clean debt limit. The votes are not there in the House,” the Republican House Speaker said. “The president is risking default.”

Obama also pressured Boehner to bring a vote to the House floor to end the government shutdown, voicing skepticism over the House Speaker’s claim that a clean government spending bill would not pass.

“My very strong suspicion is there are enough votes there” to pass the government funding legislation, he said.

A whip count by NBC News suggests that a clean continuing resolution could pass the House.