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House sends debt limit hike to Biden, averting unprecedented default


WASHINGTON (AP) – House members on Tuesday passed a short-term increase in the country’s debt limit, ensuring the federal government can continue to pay its bills in full until December and temporarily avert a default without precedent that would have decimated the economy.

The country’s $ 480 billion borrowing ceiling hike cleared the Senate last week in a party line vote. The House approved it quickly so President Joe Biden can sign it this week. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had warned that measures to avoid default on the country’s debts would be exhausted by Monday and that from then on the department would soon be unable to fully comply. government financial obligations.

A default would have huge spillover effects on global financial markets based on the fundamental security of US government debt. Routine government payments to Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and active-duty military personnel would also be called into question.

The relief provided by the passage of the legislation will only be temporary, however, forcing Congress to reconsider the matter in December – a time when lawmakers will also work to complete federal spending bills and avoid a shutdown. damaging government. The year-end backlog increases risks for both sides and threatens a tumultuous end to Biden’s first year in office.

“I am happy that this at least allows us to avoid a totally self-taught and totally preventable economic catastrophe as we work on a longer term plan,” said representative Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

Republicans signaled the upcoming debt limit debate wouldn’t be any easier and warned Democrats not to expect their help.

“Unless and until Democrats abandon their dream of a big-government socialist America, Republicans cannot and will not support raising the debt ceiling and help them pave the way for a great rights company, ”said representative Tom Cole, R- Okla.

On a procedural level, the House proceeded Tuesday to a single vote which had the effect of adopting the Senate bill. The measure was passed by a party line vote of 219-206.

The current impasse on the debt ceiling eased when Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Agreed to help push through the increase in the near term. But he insists he won’t do it again.

In a letter to Biden on Friday, McConnell said Democrats will have to deal with the next increase in the debt limit on their own using the same process they tried to use to pass the massive social spending plan and Biden’s environment. Reconciliation allows legislation to be passed by the Senate with 51 votes instead of the 60 that are usually required. In the 50-50 split Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris gives the Democrats a majority with her deciding vote.

Lawmakers from both parties have used the debt ceiling votes as leverage for other priorities. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened to vote against raising the debt ceiling when President Donald Trump was in office, saying she had no intention of supporting lifting the debt ceiling to allow Republicans to give another tax break to the rich. And Republicans in 2011 were successful in coercing President Barack Obama into accepting about $ 2 trillion in deficit reduction as a condition for raising the debt limit – although lawmakers subsequently reversed some of those cuts.

Pelosi told reporters Tuesday that over the years Republicans and Democrats have voted against lifting the debt ceiling, “but never to the point of jeopardizing it.”

Pelosi offered him hope that Congress would lift the debt ceiling in a bipartisan fashion in December because of the issues involved. But she also launched a bill sponsored by Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., That would transfer the obligation to raise the debt limit to Congress and hand it over to the Secretary of the Treasury, saying, “I think that this has merit. “

Focusing on the debt ceiling, McConnell attempted to tie Biden’s sharp increase in federal government spending to the country’s growing indebtedness, even though they are separated and the debt ceiling will need to be increased or suspended whether or not Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion plan does. that in law.

“Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have the time they claimed lacked to settle the debt ceiling through a stand-alone reconciliation, and all the tools to do so,” McConnell said in a letter to the President. “They can’t make up another crisis and ask for my help. “

McConnell was one of 11 Republicans who sided with the Democrats in pushing the debt ceiling stay to a final vote. McConnell and his GOP colleagues subsequently voted against the final passage.

The debt ceiling debate has sometimes become personal. McConnell suggested last week that Democrats were playing “Russian roulette” with the economy because they had not addressed the debt ceiling by the process he insisted on. He called Pelosi for his trip to Europe last week.

“I can only assume that she is hopeful that the faith and credit of the United States will be resolved,” McConnell said.

Pelosi did not let the shot go. “Russian roulette from Moscow Mitch. Interesting, ”she said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Said Tuesday’s vote marked the 50th time since President Ronald Reagan has voted on extending the debt limit .

“No one has their hands clean when it comes to the debt limit,” he said.

Because the Senate bill only allowed a temporary extension, Hoyer called it a “bad deal.”

“And then we’re going to play this game all over again, a contemptible and irresponsible act for adults who know better,” Hoyer said.

Representative Chip Roy, R-Texas, said he wanted to “thank” Hoyer for sharing that he had previously voted to raise the debt ceiling 49 times.

“When he got into this body, the debt was around a trillion dollars,” Roy said. “Thank you, I guess, on behalf of the American people who are facing $ 28 trillion in debt. “

The current debt ceiling is $ 28.4 trillion. Both sides have contributed to this charge with decisions that have rarely left the government to operate in the dark.

The calamitous ramifications of the default are why lawmakers have been able to come to a compromise to raise or suspend the debt ceiling some 18 times since 2002, often after frequent rounds of scams.