The Clinton Administration is offering to accept a temporary $85-billion increase in the nation's debt limit to keep the government operating through mid-January.
Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin sent a letter Friday to House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and other Republican leaders asking for their cooperation. Rubin said President Clinton asked him to contact Gingrich to discuss the possibility of averting a debt default through the short-term increase to $4.985 trillion.
The offer represents a significant Administration compromise. Until now, Rubin has insisted the only responsible course for Congress is to increase the borrowing authority to $5.5 trillion.
Rubin has said the government is about to exhaust its ability to borrow money and the first default in the nation's history could occur next month.
Gingrich's deputy press secretary, Lauren Sims, said: "When the President is ready to talk, the Speaker is ready to listen."