WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans are rallying behind a long-shot bid for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. But they're divided over conservatives' efforts to demand its passage as their price for backing any increase in the government's borrowing limit.

Right in the middle of their brawl with President Barack Obama over extending the debt ceiling and hacking trillions from projected deficits, GOP leaders are forcing House and Senate debates next week over similar amendments requiring the budget to be balanced, starting no sooner than five years from now. Reflecting tea party clout, both measures would also sharply curb Congress' ability to raise taxes and spending.

Constitutional amendments require two-thirds majorities to clear each chamber of Congress, meaning it will be difficult for the GOP to prevail. Republicans hope the debate will highlight their commitment to smaller government and — with polls showing public backing for a budget-balancing amendment — provide fodder to embarrass opponents in next year's elections.

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