House passes short-term debt limit increase, setting up new December showdown

House passes short-term debt limit increase, setting up new December showdown
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The House voted Tuesday to extend the nation’s borrowing limit until early December, clearing the measure for President Joe Biden’s signature and averting a default that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned could happen as soon as Oct. 18.

The measure, which passed 219 to 206 with no Republicans voting in favor, provides Yellen $480 billion in new borrowing authority, but the temporary extension means Congress must address a major fiscal cliff in a matter of weeks.

A short-term measure to keep the federal government funded also expires on Dec. 3.

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Democrats used a special procedure to pass the increase by rolling it into a procedural measure.

Conservatives balked at the move, which averted a direct vote on raising the debt limit. Adam Brandon, president of the advocacy group Freedomworks, called it “a cowardly way to deal with America’s financial troubles.”

Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over raising the nation’s borrowing limit.

The GOP refuses to back a long-term increase, arguing it would be used to pay for a massive social welfare spending package Democrats plan to jam through over Republican opposition.

Although House Democrats can bypass GOP opposition with a simple majority vote, the Senate filibuster rule and 60-vote threshold mean Democrats need at least 10 Republicans to pass most legislation.

Senate Republicans ended a standoff over the debt limit last week by offering to vote for the short-term extension.

Republicans said it would provide Democrats enough time to use a budgetary tactic called reconciliation, enabling them to pass it without GOP support in both the House and Senate.

“They can pass a debt limit extension using their majority since it is their policies that are requiring a substantially larger and earlier increase in the debt ceiling,” said Rep. Michelle Fischbach, a Minnesota Republican.

But Democrats refuse to take that route, setting up a showdown in December and another threat of a default.

Democrats argue a debt ceiling increase must be bipartisan, blaming the Trump-era tax cuts for the need to borrow more money. Just 3% of the nation's current debt was accrued during the Biden administration, Democrats argued.

“We are paying the bills that Donald Trump and the Republicans accumulated,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat.

Yellen has repeatedly warned that if the Treasury’s borrowing authority ends, the United States will default on loans and other critical payments, risking an economic crash.

Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters a proposal to surrender congressional authority over the debt limit and provide it to the Treasury “has merit.”

The California Democrat argued the threat of not raising the debt limit is too great and that even Republicans support the idea of yielding authority to the treasury secretary.

A bill sponsored by House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat, would allow the Treasury to lift the debt limit unilaterally, but Congress could overrule it.

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So far, no Republicans have signed on to the bill.

Ahead of the vote Tuesday, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer acknowledged each party has refused to back a debt ceiling increase over the years, triggering a regular battle over federal borrowing. Hoyer supports a measure to eliminate the debt limit entirely.

“Nobody has clean hands when it comes to the debt ceiling,” Hoyer said. “We all tend to rationalize it’s somebody else’s debt.”

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Tags: News, Congress, debt limit, government spending, Nancy Pelosi, Janet Yellen, Congress

Original Author: Susan Ferrechio

Original Location: House passes short-term debt limit increase, setting up new December showdown

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