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House Postpones Vote on Balanced Budget Amendment

The House scrapped plans Monday to bring a balanced budget amendment to the floor this week, postponing action until next week.

Republican leaders lined up consideration of the constitutional amendment for this week after Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced the chamber would be in session rather than take a weeklong recess, as was originally planned. Fiscal conservatives have made the amendment’s passage by the House and Senate a prerequisite for supporting an increase of the debt limit.

A spokeswoman for the Virginia Republican confirmed Monday that the amendment would not be on the floor this week. Other GOP aides said leaders are instead hoping to bring it up next week. The House is still scheduled to consider the Cut, Cap and Balance plan on Tuesday. The constitutional amendment, which requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers, plus ratification by 38 states to become law, is a priority for fiscal conservatives and was to be brought up this week as part of the effort to find a solution to raise the federal debt ceiling.

President Barack Obama met with Speaker John Boehner (R-0hio) and Cantor on Sunday night to continue intense negotiations on the debt limit. In confirming the meeting, Boehner’s spokesman said: “As we said throughout the weekend, the lines of communications are being kept open. But there is nothing to report in terms of an agreement or progress. We believe Cut, Cap and Balance represents the best path forward, and we are looking forward to the House vote on it tomorrow.”

The unannounced meeting came less than two weeks before the U.S. government is projected to begin defaulting on its loans unless Congress votes to increase the debt ceiling. Obama has led bicameral talks with House and Senate leaders on the issue, but the two parties remain at a stalemate and have yet to coalesce behind any solution that will prevent a government default before the Aug. 2 deadline.

White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to give a readout of the meeting beyond saying the president would continue to meet and talk with leaders on two tracks — getting a larger deal and a fallback proposal from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that would allow the president to increase the debt ceiling.

Carney urged leaders to reach a deal this week to ensure that a bill would reach the president’s desk by the Aug. 2 deadline. Carney said Obama continues to seek the largest deal possible.

Steven T. Dennis and John Stanton contributed to this report.