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House passes short-term debt ceiling bill


The House voted Tuesday to extend the debt ceiling until December 3, allowing the Treasury Department to borrow $480 billion to pay the nation’s bills. 

The vote was 219-206, with only Democrats voting in the affirmative and Republicans voting against. 

Lawmakers passed the stopgap measure approved in the Senate last week, which will be promptly signed by President Joe Biden

The vote was structured in such a way that members voted on a rule governing floor debate on three separate measures, allowing politically vulnerable lawmakers some cover, as they didn’t have to vote specifically on a debt ceiling hike. 

In the run-up to the vote, House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern hammered Republicans for resisting pushing up the debt limit.   

‘What we’re doing here is paying for the bills that Donald Trump and the Republicans accumulated,’ McGovern said on the House floor. ‘It’s like my Republican friends went to a fancy restaurant, drank champagne, ate caviar and ran out of the restaurant before paying the bill.’ 

The House passed a bill that would increase the debt ceiling – by $480 billion until December 3 – along straight party lines Tuesday night 

House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer

House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern (left) went after Republicans for refusing to help Democrats lift the debt ceiling as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (right) suggested Congress get rid of the debt limit altogether 

‘My friends are really good at creating messes and piling up big bills,’ the Massachusetts Democrat charged. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was more charitable, saying both parties have added to the debt. 

‘Nobody has clean hands when it comes to the debt limit. Let me repeat, it is our debt, America’s debt,’ Hoyer said in a floor speech. ‘We both went into that restaurant. We both got a steak.’  

Hoyer, however, pushed for the debt limit to be abolished – and called the deal Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made with Democrats ‘lousy.’ 

‘All together it’s a phony issue. It is a fraud. It is fake news,’ the Maryland Democrat said. 

In her floor speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had asked for bipartisan support – something that didn’t happen.  

Rep. Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican, delayed the final vote for more than an hour by having members vote on a motion to adjourn for the day.  

Five Republicans voted with the Democratic majority against adjournment. 

The debt ceiling vote interrupted a planned recess, so hundreds of lawmakers voted by proxy.  

Tuesday’s House vote simply moves the partisan drama over the debt ceiling several weeks down the road.   

For weeks, Republicans and Democrats have been squabbling over the debt ceiling, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warning that the U.S. wouldn’t be able to pay its bills after October 18.  

McConnell wanted Senate Democrats to pass a debt ceiling hike alone – using the process of reconciliation to bypass the filibuster and get a bill through. 

Biden and other top Democrats wanted Republicans to simply not filibuster a Senate debt bill, allowing them to pass it using regular order. 

They complained that reconciliation would take too long, and jeopardize the U.S. economy.  

The House had previously passed a bill that would suspend the debt ceiling until December 2022, after next year’s midterm elections.    

Republicans, however, wanted a bill that would include a specific dollar amount – likely as a way they can nail Democrats on increasing the debt in advance of the midterm elections. 

House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern conducts a markup earlier Tuesday on amendmentes including raising the debt limit

House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern conducts a markup earlier Tuesday on amendmentes including raising the debt limit

Members of the Rules Committee including Reps. Ed Perlmutter (left) and Jamie Raskin (right) prepare the final version of the bill to increase the debt limit

Members of the Rules Committee including Reps. Ed Perlmutter (left) and Jamie Raskin (right) prepare the final version of the bill to increase the debt limit 

On Wednesday, McConnell announced Republicans would allow Senate Democrats to vote on a stopgap debt ceiling measure that increases the ceiling by $480 billion, according to CNN, which is how much the Treasury Department told lawmakers it would need to pay bills through December 3. 

That measure passed the Senate on Thursday. 

Eleven Republicans voted alongside every Democrat to break the GOP’s filibuster. 

The bill was then passed 50 to 48, with every Democrat voting in the affirmative and every Republican against it.   

Earlier this month, Congress avoided a government shutdown by passing a stopgap bill that would fund the government through December 3. 

Now Congress has set the same deadline to both fund the government – or risk a government shutdown – and push up the debt ceiling. 

Failure to do the latter would put the U.S. in default for the first time in history.  



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