WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, the House of Representatives finally approved legislation that will raise the debt ceiling through early December, postponing the threat of a first-ever federal default, even as Republicans vow to renew their blockade on a longer-term basis.
The bill voted 219 to 206, allowing President Biden to quickly sign it in just days before October 18, when the government must violate the law’s borrowing limit and fail to meet it. obligations. The law raises the debt ceiling by $ 480 billion, which the Treasury Department estimates will last until at least December 3, setting another deadline for Congress to break the deadlock on the issue.
The temporary extension was necessary because Republicans blocked Democratic law to secure longer-term increases, requiring them to do so through a complex and time-consuming fiscal maneuver rather than through conventional channels.
Last week, a handful of Senate Republicans temporarily ditched their party’s months of obstacles to imposing a debt-cap measure and voted to violate the short-term bill by allowing him to vote in that House. But Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, has since warned President Biden that his party will no longer break ranks.
On Tuesday, all Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against raising the debt ceiling, even for weeks, as Democrats called for bipartisan support.
“What do you have against our own economy, where this catastrophe of incredible proportions could have consequences for over 100 years?” This was stated by the speaker from California, Nancy Pelosi, addressing the Republicans before the vote. “Doesn’t it matter to you?”
It is not uncommon for members of an out-of-power party to oppose an increase in the debt limit, a vote that could expose legislators to wasteful federal spending. But this year, Republicans have taken the hurdle to a new level, actively discouraging Democrats from even putting such a law to a vote under normal procedures.
Democrats pushed the hike on Tuesday as part of a procedural move to organize future votes on three additional pieces of legislation, including expanding opportunities for breastfeeding at work, a bill to ensure that older Americans are not suspended from work, and another to strengthen protection and services for survivors of domestic and family violence. This maneuver saved Democrats from a separate vote to raise the debt ceiling, which Republicans criticized further in the House of Representatives.
Overcoming temporary gains, Democrats were clearing the way for a reorientation of pushing Biden’s legislative agenda through Congress. They hoped to use the coming weeks to resolve intraparty differences over an extensive domestic policy bill that aims to tackle climate change, strengthen public education and health benefits, provide paid leave and home care, and raise taxes for businesses and the wealthy. …
The party is trying to narrow the initial package price of $ 3.5 trillion to about $ 2 trillion. Ms. Pelosi warned Democrats on Monday that “tough decisions must be made very soon” on how to do it.
Democrats are using a fast-track budgeting process known as reconciliation, which shields legislation from pirates, to push the bill through Congress through the unanimous Republican opposition.
In response to the move, which was also used unilaterally to pass the $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief package this spring, Republican leaders have demanded that Democrats also use reconciliation to raise debt ceilings.
“I will not be involved in any future effort to mitigate Democratic mismanagement,” Mr. McConnell wrote in a harsh letter to Mr. Biden on Friday, a day after joining 10 other Republicans in resolving a short-term boost up to move forward. “Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have time they claimed was not enough for them to solve the debt ceiling problem.”
The current debt limit was set on August 1 at $ 28.4 trillion, and since then, the Treasury Department has resorted to so-called emergency measures to delay overshooting the borrowing limit.
Understanding the US debt ceiling
What is the debt ceiling? The debt ceiling, also called the debt limit, is a limit on the total amount of money that the federal government is allowed to borrow through US Treasury bills and savings bonds to meet its financial obligations. Since the US has a budget deficit, it has to borrow huge amounts of money to pay its bills.
“Democrats now control the House of Representatives, Senate and White House – they can extend the debt limit using their majority,” said MP Michelle Fischbach, a Republican from Minnesota. She criticized the temporary hike – a proposal pioneered by Mr. McConnell, who rejected any longer-term hike – as a law that “does nothing but refrain from deciding what needs to be resolved now.”
Trillions of dollars in debt have accumulated in line with policies endorsed by both sides, and Democrats have indicated that some members of their party have joined Republicans in raising debt ceilings when the GOP controlled the White House, including under former President Donald J. Trump.
They have so far rejected Mr. McConnell’s demand for them to use the negotiation process to resolve the debt ceiling, which will likely take many hours in the Senate Hall and require dozens of votes.
On Tuesday, Ms Pelosi voiced the prospect of breaking the long-standing party debt limit stalemate by handing over responsibility for lifting the borrowing limit to the Treasury Department and simply giving Congress the opportunity to block the proposed hike.
“Both sides of the aisle seem to like it to some extent due to the consequences for people if they don’t lift it,” Ms. Pelosi said, adding, “I really think there is merit in that.”
Jen Psaki, spokesman for the White House, does not rule out such a decision as soon as Congress finds a way out of the current crisis.
“After that, there will be plenty of time to discuss what going forward will look like,” Ms Psaki said in her daily briefing on Tuesday. “There is no doubt that we do not want it to be political football in the future.”
For now, Congress has set another deadline to avoid financial disasters. It is estimated that December 3, when the new debt limit is reached, will be the first Friday of this month, the same day the government will shut down if Congress fails to negotiate and pass a dozen annual spending bills.