So the House Republicans finally sort of recognized that holding the country's economy hostage until the GOP minority could extort changes to Medicare and Social Security that the majority doesn't want wasn't a very good idea. See House GOP Agrees to Lift Debt Limit, New York Times (Jan 18, 2013).
The bills are already due, based on expenditures that the Congress has already approved. Nobody likes a slacker who borrows and then renegs on his debt, and for the Congress to even consider doing that is nothing short of despicable.
But this is just another bargaining ploy to try to build up pressure, with the sequester and other provisions, to argue for cutting social welfare programs. And that's what is really despicable. These guys (and a few gals) don't mind paying off big companies and their lobbies with extensions of economically wasteful tax breaks. They are willing to give away huge amounts to the uberwealthy who have garnered all the gains from the last few decades through an estate tax bill that lets multimillionaires pass on $10 million without taxation, and then pay a piddling rate on any in excess of that amount. But they wanna get at the vulnerable elderly through benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare--ideally through privatizing them. In their world, the rich merit it all and everybody else--that's the vast majority of us--will just have to suffer along in a diminishing world of incredible inequality.
The Democrats should push for eliminating the debt ceiling altogether. It is an artifact of a different time. It is meaningless today and it is merely a hurdle that invites the worstg in behavior out of the right-wing political minorities who try to blackmail the country to get their way.